The Art of Describing Color Online

How to Describe Color Online

A customer recently asked me if the color she sees on her phone is the exact color of a certain bag. I explained that colors may vary slightly, but it got me thinking about how we describe colors online.

Let’s say I have a pink bag. I can call it “hot pink,” “baby pink,” “cerise,” or whatever I think best describes the shade. But the name I decide to call it won’t tell you the actual shade of the bag that you will ultimately hold in your hands.

So, how can you be sure you’re getting the color you see on your phone or computer screen? And how important is the color accuracy?

Well, unless you are trying to match a bag to a pair of shoes and want them to be exactly alike, it really isn’t that important if the shade varies slightly from what you see online.

I’ve thought of putting a Pantone color swatch with every item, but unless the customer has an actual printed Pantone catalog on hand, they’ll see a variation of the color on their individual screens anyway.pantone

It’s very difficult to achieve 100% accuracy in color depiction (there are even different shades of black) … and, frankly, it’s really not that important. If I’ve managed to depict a color to even 90% accuracy, I believe it’s close enough.

Think about it: If you were looking at bags in a brick and mortar store, would the color you see in the store be the same color you see when you take the bag outside in daylight? And doesn’t the shade vary in fluorescent lighting, LED, CFL, halogen, and incandescent lighting? Point made.

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