Have you noticed that recently, more apps and web products have started offering dark mode? Dark mode is a UI setting that uses dark colours instead of the traditional white or bright tones that have been the backdrop for most app and web layouts to date.
So why has dark mode become so popular? One reason behind the trend could be new screen technology. As OLED screens have become more mainstream, designers have the ability to harness their advantages. An OLED can light up individual pixels when necessary and to different degrees. That’s why battery life can be significantly improved on smartphones that use OLED screens, and in part, why web designers are turning to the dark side.
Who should adopt dark mode?
Now, there are quite a few products that offer dark mode - from the latest Windows and Mac OS to Twitter and Facebook IM. It’s mainly the products where people spend a long amount of time reading content, such as blogs or social media feeds, but also products that users interact with on a daily basis, for example productivity tools, such as Todoist.
Dark Theme for Todoist is here! Now available across all platforms. ⚫️ pic.twitter.com/NBhymjIDVK— Todoist (@todoist) September 25, 2018
Twitter shared that they’re trialling an even darker mode with a black background on iOS devices!
It was dark. You asked for darker! Swipe right to check out our new dark mode. Rolling out today. pic.twitter.com/6MEACKRK9K— Twitter (@Twitter) March 28, 2019
A lot of creative tools provide their users with the flexibility of changing the UI from light to dark. This is to help differentiate the content designers/illustrators are creating from the interface. The content should be the main focal point and the GUI should be periferal, almost unnoticeable until needed. Dark mode can be switched on based on the time of day and the location where the user interacts with the product the most. Lighter interfaces work well during the daytime. If a user usually interacts with your product indoors or in rooms with dimmed lights, having a darker UI works better, as there’s less screen glare aggravating the eyes and the user’s face isn’t lit up by the screen light.
macOS dark mode
In macOS Mojave (which launched in September 2018), there is a new Dark Mode support that can change the interface of your Mac so that all elements are darker and easier on the eye.
Apple said “Dark Mode makes it easier to stay focused on your work, because your content stands out while darkened controls and windows recede into the background”.
With dark mode being part of the operating system, it gives users the ability to “flick a switch” and any apps installed that support dark mode will all default to it. It’s a great feature that saves professional users’ time and gives them more flexibility within the operating system.
Who is refusing to go to the dark side?
While Facebook IM offers dark mode, the rest of Facebook seems to be going in the opposite direction and moving away from its traditional blue to a white and shades of grey palette, using the Facebook blue sparingly at interaction points within the app. They’ve also introduced colourful iconography into the app, making it feel more friendly and personal with rounded corners and bright colours.
This may be in part due to the scandals over the last few years that have made some users mistrust the product and company as a whole. Brightness and colors can definitely provoke emotion, so muting out an app’s appearance can make it harder to connect with users. As Facebook says on their homepage, “Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life”, the product is all about connection, so a dark mode colour palette doesn’t play into the brand.
Apple’s Mac OS Mojave update recently included an update to Safari which features “Adds Dark Mode support for websites that support custom color schemes”. This is a very interesting move on Apple’s part, further showing their support for dark mode, and opening it up for web developers to customise their sites further.
We’re looking forward to seeing how more apps and websites will adopt dark mode. If you’d like your product to go dark, our design team can help you create great UI designs to support this. Get in touch with us below.