Web safe colours

When I started web design many years ago, the idea of using web-safe colours was still considered the standard. Back then many computers supported max 256 different colors, so it was important for the designer to use colours from a list of 216 “Web Safe Colors” to ensure that the end user could see the colour as it was intended.

Nowadays with the leap in technology, it is pretty much a redundant process. People’s monitors can handle displaying millions of colours. Many hardcore designers still stick by the “web safe” rule and it is still taught in many of the manuals and online tutorials.

I don’t stick by the “web safe” palette as a rule, but I still love seeing them in all their glory. The best place I have found for the web colour wheel is at Visibone a colour resource for designers.


Isn’t it pretty? They sell these colour charts as posters, books and even mousemats.

When designing a site I always start with the logo colour and then add to the palette using complimentary colours. I then select 2-3 accent colours, usually these would be in complete contrast to the main colours. For example: dark blue against lime, orange against cyan. Pretty much the opposites on the colour wheel works. Be careful though, as there is a fine line between contrasting colours and just pure garish!

When working on branding and logos where the use of colour is paramount, I refer to my trusty Pantone swatch book. It’s hideously expensive, but I think it’s a crucial tool for working with printed media.


My daughter loves playing with the swatch book, so I am going to make one for her out of the colour charts from the DIY stores.


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