The HTML Color Chart – Do We Really Need This Anymore?


I'm surprised how many people today still rely on an html color chart to pick colors. Unfortunately, anyone who does a search online for a type of color chart like this is probably looking for web safe colors, not realizing that the term itself is obsolete. What's worse is that most websites that come up on this topic still imply that it's important to stick to this absolutely horrible selection of colors. Maybe these are simply old sites deeply rooted in search engine indexes. Either way, a lot of first time web designers are inevitably being misled on how to go about choosing colors for the Web.

Let me clear up some of the confusion by first saying that it's not necessary to stick to a web safe color palette. Maybe it was six years ago, but not anymore. When I first started building websites in 2001, I tried my hardest to venture away from that disgusting collection of colors. Sure, I could enter whatever hex color I wanted in my html code and cross my fingers that it would look the same on more than one computer. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it did not. That really nice warm gray background I created at work would be a dirty pink on my computer at home.

Back then I could not understand why the web safe colors had to be that particular selection of hues. I mean really, how many different shades of fluorescent green do we need on the Web? Of course, the fact of the matter is that web safe colors were not picked for designers in the first place. There are a lot of technical reasons why we had to start out with that nauseating palette, but fortunately since then browsers and computer monitors have improved at lightening speed. Today everyone can see just about any color you want to serve up to them.

So does the html color chart serve any purpose today? I'm thinking probably not, at least not in its current form. What designers mostly need is a guide that offers different color schemes, along with the related hex codes that can be easily copied and pasted into an html editor. Now that we can pick nearly any color imaginable for our websites, the challenge is to find new and interesting ways to combine hues, shades, and tints – all in ways that were virtually unthinkable just five or six years ago.


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