[thelist] Webmonkey article: Death of Websafe

Seb Barre sebastien at oven.com
Mon Oct 23 17:36:45 CDT 2000

At 06:11 PM 10/23/2000 -0400, you wrote:
> > http://hotwired.lycos.com/webmonkey/00/37/index2a.html?tw=design
> > I just now FINALLY got around to reading this.
>Web Design is just waaaay too politically correct.  Let's move on, shall we?
>I currently show that 3.43% of my users use a 256 or lower color display.
>I'm not going to design my site in order to cater to this 3 percent.
>Granted, simpler is almost always better.  So if you can use web safe colors
>without any undue design problems... then why not?  But we all know that
>this is rarely the case.  I'm almost always going for some sort of "look" or
>feel for a site, and if web safe colors won't do... then forget it.  The
>same goes for the color blindness issue.  It's a pretty lame argument
>overall.  I'm looking to please my average visitor and those with varying
>degrees of color blindness, and those using 8-bit displays are not my
>average visitor.
>And it's not like  sites that don't use web safe colors instantly become
>unusable in an 8-bit display, they just look different, or at worst ugly.
>I'd venture to say that it is a rare instance when a site actually loses
>functionality due to color choice.
>Do photographers compose their photographs with color blind people in mind?
>Do television programmers and movie producers make movies that cater to
>color blind people or people with black and white televisions?  What about
>video game developers?  How about painters and artists?  Well, I'd really
>like to use the full spectrum with this landscape, but because less than 5%
>of my viewers (1 out of every 10 white males) probably have some slight
>red-green color blindness, I'm going to keep the contrast sharp and avoid
>using certain colors.  Give me a break.
>Sorry to bring this up again, but I figured I had to finally say something
>about this.  It's bugged me for a long time.

Two quick notes about this.

While most people probably agree with you (including me for the most part), 
most large commercial sites still have the "as many eyeballs as we can 
possibly get" attitude, and during any discovery phase or initial planning, 
they will more than likely insist on these standards (web-safe palettes 
etc), due to the fact that they don't want to alienate that small 
percentage of visitors (which can be a substantial amount of people on very 
high traffic sites - 3% of 500,000 visitors/day is 15,000 people and 15,000 
potential lost sales if the site design turns them away or makes the pages 
unusable for them).

There is also a much simpler and immediate reason, that being that many 
professional designers (including most of the ones here) would not consider 
it acceptable to have their work show up in crappy colours or bad 
dithering.  Not because they're anal, but because they are professional and 
believe in producing quality work under all conditions, and it wouldn't be 
acceptable for them on a personal level.  Not _all_ designers are 
web-ignorant, and I've seen alot of really spectacular work done that looks 
identical in 16/24 bit and in 8-bit..

And this is because they keep the considerations in mind _before_ they 
start designing, instead of finding workarounds afterwards.  You can 
usually come up with a nice design that is consistent across platforms and 
colour depths if you understand the limitations of the medium.

To continute your painting analogy, that particular painter might want to 
have some animated birds flying around in the scene, but he understands 
that it's a painting, not a movie, so he just can't do it and settles on 
some static birds in the painting.  Same goes with web design.  It might be 
nice to have big crisp vibrant 24-bit images all over that big e-commerce 
site you're currently pitching (for example), but it's just not feasible in 
today's market, and you have to accept that and provide a realistic 
alternative that is best for the client's goals.

I'm speaking of course from a professional level here.  If you're working 
on a personal or non-profit/hobby site, then you're the boss, do what you 
want. =)

--- -- -
Seb Barre - sebastien at oven.com
OVEN Digital Toronto
Work: 416-595-9750 x 222
Mobile: 416-254-5078

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