At this point, 95% or more of the people browsing the Web are using higher color depths:
* 256 colors - 5% or less
* Thousands of colors - 13%
* Millions of colors or more - 82%
If your web statistics software captures user screen resolution, check it; it's likely that users with 256 color screen resolution account for only a tiny portion of your site's traffic. It's time to design for the majority of your visitors, rather than the exceptions to the rule.
Multimedia Avoidance Syndrome: Fagetaboutit!
Times have changed, though. Most US Internet users connect using a broadband Internet service. About 70% use a high-speed connection, a jump of about 40% from last year. Broadband is a popular choice for new Internet users now, too.
While this isn't license to create bloated sites, it does point out that avoiding multimedia not only is no longer necessary, it may be a mistake. Some of the most popular sites on the Web, such as YouTube or MySpace, are real bandwidth hogs. On-demand multimedia is showing up at all types of sites, and podcasting and video podcasting are letting publishers create multimedia channels that visitors can subscribe to.
If your site is still avoiding bandwidth-sucking features, it's time to give this another look. If you keep your Web pages relatively lean, while incorporating on-demand media content, you can expand your options for interacting with the majority of your site's visitors, while keeping dial-up users happy.
Old School Web Design
As the Web evolves, some of the basic guidelines that many web designers take for granted will become anachronisms. If you're still worrying about low screen resolutions, browser-safe palettes and slow Internet connections, your site could get stuck in the past. It's time to rethink these assumptions and use current technology to make the most of your visitors' experience at your site.