How to Calibrate Color for the Web

a photo with varying degrees of color adjustment When is orange more like red? Web designers, even picky ones, sometimes ignore color shift across monitors.

How is a web designer to manage color when the screens of their users could be any size or color or could be viewed under any lighting conditions?

Unlike fixing HTML errors, which affect browsers as the page is loaded, getting accurate color is part of the designer’s work process.

Maintaining colors across projects is possible once the problems are understood. Read on for the challenges—and solutions—to getting consistent color on the web.

Can you spot the difference between the photos below?

two slightly different photos

One of the images is slightly more blue than the other. This “color shift,” or overall tint of a particular hue, might go unnoticed by the casual observer. After all, a slight change in hue doesn’t make this any less of a flower or detract from the dewdrop’s detail. It’s a cumulative change.

Over time, maximum-quality JPEG images and 256-color PNG icons eat up precious bandwidth. Complexity in HTML increases the browser’s workload with each page load. Unlike these problems, which add up as visitors browse the website, color management is a problem with the design process. Images created on an uncalibrated monitor become inconsistent over time.

Color shift could go by another name: inattentiveness.

When can we say that a graphic’s color matches the page close enough? At what point is a photo’s color too inaccurate? What details don’t matter to the project as a whole? Everyone may have different answers, but no one who takes digital images seriously can ignore color calibration.

The print industry has struggled with getting accurate color for decades. Ensuring that the exact same colors appear at all stages of production—including in various monitors, office printers and high-end presses—has spawned its own industry of calibration devices, software solutions and even ISO standards.

The web design community generally doesn’t worry about press checks. But maybe it should.

The Web Has Had Color Issues Since It’s Had Color

In the 1990s, getting accurate color on the web meant using a palette of 216 “web-safe” colors. These hues and shades were (mostly) guaranteed not to dither when displayed on monitors that could not handle more than 8-bit color.

illustration of a dithered image

Above is a gradient with and without dithering. Today, the vast majority of computers can show 24-bit color or better (according to these browser display statistics and Google Analytics tracking of websites, including Webdesigner Depot). That is, each pixel can show one of millions of colors, making calibration both complicated and more critical.

The web has long relied on hexidecimal codes, like #F35C23, to define colors. These six-character strings can display a wide variety of hues and values with great precision. An image that has #F35C23 and a CSS background in #F35C23 will match perfectly.

The problem is that the code defines a combination of red, green and blue but does not always result in consistent color. Display screens account for the difference.

White Is White, Except When It Isn’t

Many factors affect color accuracy when creating and editing digital images. As with print, color on the web depends on the environment in which the image is created. Unlike print, web-based images can change every time they’re displayed because the monitors of users will vary, and no press check can catch problems that crop up.

Although many modern web browsers can display CMYK images, most images for the web are based on the additive RGB color model. This model applies a mixture of red, green and blue to each pixel.

But not all monitors are built the same, and so a particular shade of orange could be inconsistent across different screens. Here are some of the causes of color change:

  • Slight changes between manufacturers and models account for slight inaccuracies in shade and hue.
  • Many screens (especially CRT monitors) change color over the years and even as they warm up over the course of a day.
  • Until recently, Mac OS X and Windows used two different “gammas,” which meant that images on Macs appeared brighter than ones on PC. Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) uses the more common gamma of 2.2, which is the same as Windows and many televisions and camcorders.
  • People browse the web from many different locations and in many different lighting conditions. The effect of overhead lights and the amount and color of natural light all affect the appearance of color on the screen.

simulated color shift across different displays

Above, different calibration shows that “white” is often an assumed color:

  1. The original image, shot under fluorescent light with a point-and-shoot camera.
  2. Approximate color shift on a Mac before Snow Leopard.
  3. Approximate color shift on an aging CRT monitor.
  4. Close to true color, as seen on the laptop on which the photo was processed. Leer más “How to Calibrate Color for the Web”

iTunes Plugin To Automatically Show Lyrics For Current Playing Song [Mac Only]

A vocalist’s voice is not always clear enough for us to understand exactly what words are being sung. If we like the song enough, we try finding out what is actually being sung by visiting one of numerous websites that host song lyrics. Recently however I discovered a tool that us view lyrics to a song as we played it. This tool was Lyrics Plugin and worked on Windows Media Player and Winamp.


Lyrics Plugin has been a wonderful tool for me and I wanted my Mac-using readers to have access to such a tool as well. I did a little online searching and found exactly what Mac users need: Get Lyrical.

Get Lytical is a free application for Mac systems that works as an iTunes plugin. Sized at only 725KB, users will have the application up and running in no time at all. Leer más “iTunes Plugin To Automatically Show Lyrics For Current Playing Song [Mac Only]”

Mind Mapping–The Fun Side Of Time Management

Do you want to get better results, be more productive, accomplish your goals and be more organized? It’s all about timing… Time management is planning activities effectively.

Mind maps are an excellent tool for managing time and help you use it efficiently in each step of every process. Mind mapping is a powerful method for generating and picturing ideas and activities, brainstorming and organizing thoughts. Using this type of software can help you save time, increase you skills while you are solving a problem, intensify creativity and facilitate your thinking processes.

Seavus DropMind™ is a mind mapping tool for personal development which will help you be more productive at the workplace and in your life. It arranges your thoughts graphically and makes a clear picture of your activities with a variety of colors and relationships, highlighters, images and icons that will – – help you get clarity of thoughts. Seeing your ideas in colors can increase your problem solving skills, leading to more innovative solutions.

Represented by the desktop platform-friendly mind mapping solution and unique online application created with the next generation, most powerful runtime on the web, MS® Silverlight™, Seavus DropMind™ provides its users with full advantage of the logical way of thinking.

Both applications are integrated and synchronized together by merging the best from the desktop and web solution. This allows you to get the latest changes and be updated anytime and anyplace, without losing any information.


Seavus DropMind™ offers a selection of great features and benefits that enhance brainstorming and strategic thinking, accelerate project and process planning and boost productivity.

Organize yourself

Benjamin Franklin said “For Every Minute Spent Organizing, An Hour Is Earned”

With Seavus DropMind™ you have endless possibilities. You will be able to reduce wastage of time and accomplish more. You can organize your project, add and update task information directly within the mind map by using the advanced task management functionality.

3 Leer más “Mind Mapping–The Fun Side Of Time Management” Store & Access Your Music Anywhere With AudioBox Cloud Music Player

by MOin on April 26, 2010

If you are an avid music fan like me, you will surely love the application I have got for you today. Today all music is electronically stores and there is a good chance that all your music collection exists as mp3 files. Mp3 files are portable and can be carried around in flash drives as well as cellphones and mp3 players. But what if you have none of these things with you and only the internet? What if you want to listen to your favorite songs?

Of course you could use an audio streaming website to listen to your song but who knows how long it would take to find your song. A much better alternative is AudioBox.


AudioBox is a free website that provides registered users with 1GB of online storage to host their music audio files. Once our music has been stored into our AudioBox account, we can use any internet-equipped computer to access and listen to our music. We listen and add our music using the in-browser tool and require nothing to download and install. Before we do any of this however, we must first sign up for a free account.

audiobox1 Leer más “ Store & Access Your Music Anywhere With AudioBox Cloud Music Player”

30 Mar A Showcase of Watercolor in Web Design

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Watercolor is such an old school element. Artists have been using watercolor for hundreds of years, and web designers have adopted the style for good reason.

Watercolor is a great way to add depth, interesting subtle textures and colors. It can really give your site an authentic, natural feel.

The examples compiled in this collection use watercolor in different ways; whether it’s for the main graphic of the site or the more subtle and faint hints that get you to look twice.

Watercolor has been around for a century and I know most of you will say it’s a trend, but you can’t argue with something that has pioneered painting and art.


Agami Creative

Agami Creative

Billy Hughes

Billy Hughes



The Croquis


Electric Pulp

Electric Pulp

Happy Cog

Happy Cog

Leer más “30 Mar A Showcase of Watercolor in Web Design”

The Do’s and Don’ts of Dark Web Design

Dark web designs are very popular and can have an elegant and creative appeal.

They are also perfect for many types of client work however, they are not suitable for every website and should be used only when appropriate.

In spite of the striking visual impact that these dark designs can have, many designers don’t know how to effectively pull them off without turning off the visitor.

With a dark design comes less readability, less appeal for most readers and less opportunity for conventional design elements.

In this post, we’ll discuss a few tips to make your next dark website design appeal to a broader audience, while letting you, the designer, express your creativity.

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A recent poll suggests that light designs are preferred by the general web-going audience by a whopping 47%. The main reason is readability. Most people don’t like viewing light text against a dark background on websites because it strains their eyes, making for a much less enjoyable experience.

By contrast, 10% of those surveyed said that they always preferred dark backgrounds for websites, while another 36% said that the best choice would depend on the type of website.

So, what’s the right answer? When it comes down to it, everyone has their own opinion, and that’s that.

But with such a large percentage of users saying that dark website designs are tolerable and sometimes even preferred, we as web designers have to learn how to create effective dark designs for ourselves and our clients.

This means convincing all of the true believers of light backgrounds that dark design can be more readable and user-friendly.

Use More White Space

Or should it be called “black space”? Effective use of white space is important for any type of design, but it is essential for websites with dark backgrounds.

Dark designs have a tendency to feel “heavy”, and cluttering them up can reinforce that feeling. Take a look at some popular dark web designs below, and note their liberal use of white space to great effect.

Black Estate is seen all over the Internet in dark web design showcases. It is indeed a beautiful design and worthy of all the attention. A great deal of white space is used throughout the design, and what makes this particular design unique is how the white space is used to outline certain elements so efficiently.

The logo has a lot of white space around it and is the first thing we see as visitors. We see the main content and bottle on the right next. As you see, white space is used perfectly to highlight the text on the bottle and the headline of the main content.


The featured content in Tictoc and accompanying image in this design are framed with the most white space. As we move down, we see less white space, which makes us pay attention to the content being shown.

The point here is that white space gradually guides the user down to the end of the page.

The dark background adds depth to the design. Because the website relies so heavily on white space, it would be less interesting without the creative effect of the dark background.


The Mark Dearman website has liberal and evenly distributed white space throughout its layout.

The white space framing each portfolio piece provides plenty of breathing room for the content it holds, and it is a nice resting point before moving on to the next piece.

Plenty of white space is essential to dark designs because it aids not only in de-cluttering the layout but in framing important elements and adding elegance to the overall look.


Textual White Space

Because readability is the number one concern of those who dislike dark backgrounds, designers must pay extra close attention to the text itself.

Just as in the overall design, one way to improve readability on dark websites is to increase the white space by adjusting paragraph size, kerning and leading.

The example below shows what a difference the spacing between and around characters makes in comparing dark and light layouts.

Text White Space

Another way to improve readability in dark web designs is to increase the font size. Like most of the other rules in this post, larger font sizes mean more white space. The bigger the letters are, the more white space will appear around and within each letter.

For example, the letter “a” below gets more white space as it gets larger, both in the area around it and in the space inside the a’s enclosure and under the overhang.

Note how reading small text is so much easier on a light background than on a dark one. When setting the typography for a new website, be sure to look at some dummy text to make sure it is legible. If not, see if increasing the text size helps.

Text Size Matters

Text Contrast

Many people would agree that the most poorly conceived dark websites cause eye-strain. Too much or too little contrast is usually the culprit. How does one find the perfect balance?

If you are in a room that is pitch black, suddenly looking directly into light is not pleasant. But looking at a less bright light in a less dark room is just fine. The same principle applies to web design.

Finding the perfect contrast means balancing the darkness of the background with the lightness of the text.

Below is a (very) rough guide that shows how contrast between text and background works. One notices that as the background gets lighter, so does the text.

Finding a pleasant contrast for text is much more difficult with a pure black background.

To find the perfect balance, experiment with different shades. The best result is usually a background that isn’t pure black and text that isn’t pure white.

Text Contrast Leer más “The Do’s and Don’ts of Dark Web Design”

AdFreak: Ad agency is slap-happy about U.K. election


Ever wanted to slap a politician in the face? Well, now you can. A British ad agency came up with a clever way to gauge viewer reaction during the live debates ahead of the May 6 elections in the U.K.. It’s called the Slapometer. The site shows Conservative leader David Cameron, Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg and Prime Minister Gordon Brown—and you can slap any one of them when he says something you disagree with or find stupid. Finally, a constructive outlet for that controversial “Hit the Bitch” functionality! The Slapometer site keeps track of your particular slaps, all slaps today, all slaps ever—and also divides them up by debate. They’re into the tens of millions of slaps already, so I’d have to say Albion London really slapped a nerve with this one.

—Posted by Christine Hall

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