"Colors are tricky"

a Pantone-branded productI read a good article today about the development, and recent explosion in pop culture visibility, of the Pantone color system. It opened with the observation that colors are tricky—and if you've ever tried matching your wall color to a particular tone in your favorite rug, you know that all too well.

As the article says,

The colors you see depend on everything from the medium—the kind of paper, fabric, substrate or wall surface—to the environment—the lighting, the weather, the time of day. On top of that, your own color acuity (or color blindness) can factor into perception, too. So while the sky may be blue for everyone (except when it isn’t), its precise shade of blue is quite subjective.

But colors get even trickier on the Web. Different browsers, monitors, and monitor settings all add elements of variability. Even looking at your monitor from different angles may change the appearance of a color.

Pantone publishes a "color bridge," a set of color chips that provide code for a suggested Web color to approximate each print color. That gives us a starting point when we're designing a website that needs to work nicely with a client's existing branding. Ultimately, though, the important thing is that your website is pleasing to the eye and easy to navigate. No one is likely to hold your business card up to their monitor and wonder why it's not exactly the same shade of blue!

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