Browser Safe Colors
While 8-bit GIF images support 256 colors, cross-platform issues leave a palette of only 216 colors that are completely safe to use on the Web. This group of Web-safe colors is often called the browser-safe palette. Use of other colors beyond this safe set can lead to poor-looking images when viewed under limited color conditions such as 8-bit (256 color) VGA.
Selecting a set of colors from the safe color palette and mixing them together in a process called dithering will approximate colors outside the safe range. In short, dithering attempts to imitate colors by placing similar colors near them, but generally creates irregularities that render the image unappealing.