about moreCrayons

Web design has traditionally been limited to the 216-color “browser-safe” palette that was invented when most people’s computers could only display 256 colors. Since most internet users now have monitors that can display thousands or millions of colors1, it’s time to use more colors.

In a February 19, 2001, MacEdition article, “CodeBitch wants a bigger box of crayons,” CodeBitch proposed an expanded “web-smart” palette of 4,096 colors, that should display consistently on monitors that support thousands (16-bit color) and millions (24-bit color) of colors.2 Most of the colors should dither to the nearest browser-safe color on 256-color monitors.

moreCrayons is primarily a resource for web designers and developers to test this expanded palette of 4,096 colors for the web. The web-smart palette pages show different demonstrations of the palette. The Resources section has links to articles about color and tools for using color on the web.

1 TheCounter.com statistics for January 2003 cited at W3schools.com show 95% of users have monitors set to display thousands or millions of colors, with 44% of users using thousands of colors (also known as high color, or 16-bit color). MyComputer.com statistics for January 2001 cited at Client Help Desk show that 82% of internet users have monitors set to display thousands or millions of colors, with 50% of users using thousands of colors. (See the web color section for more information about how computer monitors display color.)

The statistics cited in surveys are only approximations of what users are using, because it’s impossible to accurately determine what all users are using, and surveys often collect data from a skewed sample of the entire Web. The only way to know for sure what your audience is using is to examine your web server access logs. Webmonkey has a tutorial on analyzing log files, including reviews of commercial and freeware log analysis software. Adrian Roselli’s two-part article at evolt.org, “Real-World Browser Stats” [part 1/part 2] describes a JavaScript-based method for anaylzing your visitors’ settings, and WebReference’s Doc JavaScript has a similar script.

2 The Webmonkey article “Death of the Websafe Color Palette?” points out possible inconsistencies between the display of HTML colors and color in GIF images at 16-bit resolution. The color squares section of the web-smart palette has popup windows that let you compare the GIF and HTML colors.