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CancerLynx - we prowl the net
July 2, 2007

ASCII, Colors
Website Creation Tips and Tricks for Publishing.
Alexandra Andrews and Lydia Idem



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Websites are the new modern media. There is an age gap between younger users who learned computers as a first language and older users who learned computers as a second language. Nowhere is this age gap more apparent than the Internet web designer to be. Unfortunately many paper designers trained before computers feel they must apply the same skills from a flat piece of paper to a web page. This is wrong! Flat paper media is looked at very few times. Grabbing the user's eye and attention with arresting fonts and color matter in this paper-limited world. But like the camel going through the eye of a needle, most paper designers are unable to make the leap between paper and Internet. Over and over you see great graphic artists try to force and to apply the old rules of paper. Think of the image of the scribe when confronted with the printing press.

We are in the age of a new media of the web. Like the printing press there are profound changes. A website can be viewed anywhere, anytime, anyplace. A new information world is blossoming. Age, sex, looks, skin color are unimportant. Just as in aviation, English is the language of the web.

The ideal web page seeks to have return users. Now we ask you - would you watch a cartoon or movie 10 times, 100 times, 1000 times over and over?

Our two rules for websites and Internet media are:
1. KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)
2. Never assume (makes an ass out of u and me)

ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange)
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It is very important that you know about ASCII. Have you ever been on a web page that is littered with question marks? The reason why is that the designer used special characters that the browser cannot understand or render. Fancy quotes beloved of paper-trained designers, are frequent culprits. Another reason is that the designer used a program which inserted special characters. A common cause is the perceived need to have an mdash. There is no mdash for the web. We have seen those trapped in the old paper-trained way trying the following: a graphic of an mdash, two hyphens together, using this unsupported html code —, or using —. ASCII is the built-in binary code (read by the computer) for representing the characters of the keyboard (you the user can read). Look carefully at your keyboard. Do you see any mdashs or decorative quotation marks?

If you want your website to be used by anyone, anywhere, anyplace without any concern for platform, browser, monitor, computer, use ASCII. Using ASCII code means that text of your web page can be read by most computer systems. There are several charts that convert ASCII to html hex code available on the web. Bookmark the one you find most usable. Be aware! If you choose invalid character codes with a number higher than 127, you are on the road to sloppy looking webpages. Your code validator will give error messages such as the following: replacing invalid character code 128, replacing invalid character code 147, replacing invalid character code 156 and more.

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Now we come to colors and the myths that abound. Yes, there are millions of colors available. In reality, if you want stable colors that can be read on any machine/device anywhere, you are limited to about 160. It is a sad moment when you have spent so much time creating a web color scheme that looks like trash on another machine/monitor. If you are not on an intranet where you know what each machine is, you must take into account variations, especially if you are aiming for the cell phone and small portable mobile Internet devices. Always choose colors that are web safe. Most color picker programs offer this option.

You are asking why?

The display resolution for Macintosh monitors is 72 pixels but for PC's it is 96 pixels.
We warn you! Never, never use a color that ends in the hex number of 33.
Look at the following example of dark navy blue, #000033:


On a MAC you will see dark navy blue, but on a PC it will be black. Test this out for yourself.

Avoid the color of the year. Websites can be dated by the color schemes they use.
Shades of brown, 2005-2006
Hot southwest colors of oranges and reds with lime touches, 2004-2005
Blues, oranges and pinky reds, 2006-2007
Choose colors you like. Follow your design vision

Have you read the previous Website Creation Tips and Tricks for Publishing articles to prepare for your website?
Getting Started with Websites
Accessibility, Usability, and Navigation

Alexandra Andrews is a Linux Webmaster for many websites including,, and
Lydia Idem is currently a professor at California Design College and Webmaster for BlackTree Media ( and

You are welcome to share this © article with friends, but do not forget to include the author name and web address. Permission needed to use articles on commercial and non commercial websites. Thank you.

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