Computers with 16 bit color have 65,536 colors and those with 8 bit color only have 256 colors. So if your traffic stats show you have considerable traffic with 8 bit computers then you may want to stick with web safe colors.
Hexadecimal Web Safe Color Chart
Used with permission by
© 2000 VisiBone
For an explanation of hexadecimal color codes see Hex Color Codes and How to Use them
How Color is Changing
Following is a graph of colors used by visitors to Lori's Web Design in 2012 which shows 52% of my visitors have 24 bit color, 47% are using 32 bit color which adds up to about 99% of my visitors having millions of colors and only 1% had 16 bit color. Being as 16 bit colors are quickly being phased out it should be safe to switch to non-web safe colors. See the difference between color bits in 2012 and 2010 below:
Following is a graph of colors used by visitors to Lori's Web Design in 2010 which showed 91.2% of my visitors had 32 bit color, 2.21% were using 24 bit color which adds up to about 93% of my visitors having millions of colors and 6% had 16 bit color.
Here is a site that explains Bit Depth in more detail and you can also Test Your Color Depth or check out some Pantone Color Guides. Here is a great article on Color Theory. The Color Wizard site provides an online tool where you can input a color and get complimentary colors or different shades of the same color.
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June 2004 - updated 2012-1-24