Color Access

Information comes over the Net and you see it in colors. What are the variables I might control to prevent what has been called poetically, "many a slip twixt the cup and the lip?" Visitor perception, machine tolerances, and ambient lighting are slippery factors beyond my control or prediction. Browser and operating system variables are something I can work within.

Here is a checklist of things that affect color access. I've found some indispensable resources, that is, Web pages. Terms are defined at the bottom of the page. See also another set of pages called Akashic color access.


  1. Before you start
    • Assume that Netscape does not lookup the color by index, but will pick the entry with the closest hex# to the original.
    • Gather the existing and proposed pages and tools.
  2. All programs used for Web content development must have browser-safe palettes that give consistent results. Get them in sync. For me the programs include
    • SuperCard 3.0
      Use SuperEdit to copy the WWW 6x6x6 CLUT from the Shared File (and any other safe types under consideration).
    • Swatches
      Use SuperEdit to copy the WWW 6x6x6-type CLUT (and custom CLUTs for conversion) from a SuperCard project.
    • Photoshop
      Using the Web216 image of a CLUT: Save and then move the Web palette into your Color Palettes folder in the Goodies folder in the Photoshop folder.
      To load the Web palette:
      1. In Photoshop choose Window > Palettes > Show Swatches.
      2. In the Swatches palette, hold the mouse down on the arrow button in the upper right corner of the Swatches palette, then select Load Swatches.
      3. Select the Web216 color palette located in the Color Palettes folder, then click Open.
    • GIFBuilder
    • tsColors
  3. Starting new pages. (to be developed)
  4. If converting an existing project to a Web project, if it has a CLUT, determine
    • What are the kinds of color used? Divide into photo, flat, and page color.
    • What colors need to be preserved?
    • How are the colors defined?
    For page colors
    • use browser-safe colors, the Netscape 216-color palette, in hexadecimal or Netscape color words.
      For each page:
      In a text or Web page editor, note HTML file body bgcolor text link vlink alink #numbers.
    • test the pages on as many different computer and operating systems as you can.
    For flat colors
    For graphics
    • determine the RGB values or hex values, so you can find out if they are on the Netscape safe list.


I'm only listing browser-safe links. Others are useful for you or your customers, but can lead you astray for Web design.

Color Access Terms

color look-up table
definition of a color
means is it described by index in a CLUT, name, hexidecimal number (triplet or pair), or system such as 8-bit RGB values (0-255)
flat color
includes simple color in icons, graphics, or animations, where dithering is especially noticable and to be avoided
kinds of color
are photo, flat, and page color
page color
includes HTML BODY tag-defined color of background, link, vlink, and alink.
photo color
includes these formats: .gif, .jpg, .mov, .fif, and other complex, detailed images.
Web-safe color
216 color palette. In hexadecimal, numbers made up of three pairs containing 00, 33, 66, 99, CC, or FF (for example, #330066). In RGB, three numbers that are multiples of 51, that is, 0, 51, 102, 153, 204, or 255, (for example 51,102, 255) .

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