Traditionally web designers have had very limited control over site visitor’s perception of color. The perceived color of web page elements can change due to several factors:
- Display type: CRT, LCD and OLED all produce slightly different shades of the same color.
- Platform: Windows, Linux and OS X all have different gammas (Windows tends to display colors darker)
- Environment and lighting: colors appear more vivid on your monitor in a dark room than on a mobile phone in direct sunlight.
- Monitor display settings: monitors “drift” in color calibration with time.
- Audience: the eye’s sensitivity to color and visual acuity declines with age; a significant percentage of male users are deuteranomatic (red-green color blind).
Because one cannot control all of these factors, my traditional advice to web designers regarding color profiling and management has been “don’t worry about it.” The designer’s choice of colors is still very important, but the result was always a “best guess”: few visitors to your website would see your images in the same way you did.
However, that is changing. Recent browsers, including Safari, Firefox, Chrome and IE9, have integrated color management, providing the designer far greater control over the appearance of images. The consistent perception of a site’s colors and images across platforms and browsers is now within reach.
In a series of articles I’ll provide information on how this new color management system works, and how to set up your tools and workflow process to insure that site visitors see your images the same way you do. Along the way I’ll talk about color theory, design, and tools to help.