Web Safe Colors

Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

Ever wondered what people refer to when they mention the term “Web safe colors?” Well here is a lengthy explanation on what this term means and what it does!

Web safe colors are colors that were created so that they would look the same on all computers and displays. There are 216 total web safe colors that were chosen mathematically, meaning that they were selected based on their hex color codes. In the past, most computers were capable of displaying on 256 colors. The problem with this was that the colors looked completely different on another browser or operating system due to there being 40 extra colors. For example, if you were to create a website with a certain color palette on one computer, it would have looked terrible and different on another. Now that the web safe color palette was created and there are now a limited total of 216, this ensures that the colors that you are using are consistent throughout any display.

Web safe colors can be specified in terms of RGB values. These values are multiple of 51: 0, 51, 102, 153, 204, and 255. Now a days, modern computers, phones, iPods, and tablets generally have a  16-bit color or 24-bit color, allowing millions of colors to be displayed. A web designer can specify 256 shades of red, green, and blue which are rendered by modern systems and amount to about 16 million colors.

To make the appearance of colors stand out more, dithering was used to give the impression of more colors. When designing, if your web site has a solid colored background, it is best to make it as web safe color. By doing this, it ensures that the color you used will be consistent and the same when it is displayed on other platforms. Even with an old computer that is still capable of displaying 256 colors, your background will display in a clean and non-dithered way.

You can export your photographic images using web safe colors and dithering. JPEG format will produce a better image at a reduced file size at about 15k at 20% compression.

Another way to refer to a web safe color palette is  browser-safe palette, Netscape palette, 216 palette, web palette, and the 6x6x6 color cube.


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