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Color and the Web

Among the concepts that you must consider when designing for the Web is color. As explained in Chapter 12, “Understanding and Applying Color,” not all computers can display all colors. Older computers might be restricted to 8-bit color, limiting them to a palette of only 256 possible colors. This is particularly true of older laptop computers. But today, most Web surfers are equipped with video cards and displays that are capable of millions, if not billions, of colors. So, is the Web-safe palette really necessary?

Reducing an image to the 216 colors in the Web-safe palette accomplishes two things. In addition to making an image look better on older computers and with older browsers, it also reduces the file size, leading to faster download and less waiting. There are, most certainly, Web sites to which neither of these issues is applicable. For example, an intranet (or internal network) in an organization whose computers are all powerful, modern machines equipped with high-speed access would not require such limitations. Perhaps considerations in one direction override the other. For example, a site on the Web whose intended audience is all computer artists and illustrators might require accurate color at the expense of download speed. If the work being shown on the Web site would be significantly lessened in the eyes of the viewers by a reduced palette, then perhaps longer download times become more acceptable.


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