Elegant. Voguish. Snazzy. On-fleek! – These are some of the words that designers use to describe dark mode on any screen device. The big players in the app industry (Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook) have already joined the bandwagon and so have Apple, Android and Google.
But, why is the dark mode in the list of 5 UX UI Design Trends for SaaS Apps in 2021? Does this feature offer any real benefits? Or is it just another trend?
Let’s find out.
What is Dark Mode?
Dark mode is the color scheme of any UI that displays interface elements and bright text atop a darker background. With this setting, designers can highlight visual cues through the use of depth and contrast, shining a spotlight on integral app content instead of the frame around it. Hues of pink, blue, green, and yellow pop against a darker background and this is a major impact of dark mode on UX. And Apple captured this thought back in 2018 when they introduced macOS dark mode and said, “Dark mode makes it easier to stay focused on your work because your content stands out while darkened controls and windows recede in the background.”
Why are white screens falling out of trend?
The rise of dark mode stands on the multiple disadvantages of the authentic white screen. White screens are hailed as the ultimate cause of low levels of melatonin that can induce insomnia and other health issues. One of the most common side effects of staring into the white screen of your mobile devices is dry eyes and this can result in headaches and vision impairment.
Nobody wants to fall sick while using their phone or laptop, and therefore, over 82% of the laptop/mobile addicted population are found to prefer dark mode.
To understand if dark mode is just another feature or truly necessary, let’s take a look at the advantages of dark mode.
What are the benefits of using the dark mode?
1. Battery saving
The impact of dark mode on UX can be judged by the role of the dark mode setting in improving the battery life of smartphones. If battery life is prolonged, you can bet that users are enjoying themselves. As per Google, the dark mode setting saves energy, especially if the device uses an OLED screen. If users enable dark mode in their YouTube app when their phone’s brightness is at 50%, they can save approximately 15% screen energy. The dark interface saves about 60% of screen energy when the device is at full brightness.
The dark mode setting seems to be a promising upgrade to the battery life of your phone.
2. Reduces symptoms of digital eye strain
Most people use their mobile devices for several hours throughout the day, even at night. A research group in 2018 deduced that people spend over 11 hours a day on their devices. Digital eye strain is caused due to this intense screen usage and the symptoms include dry eyes, headaches, and insomnia. When using your phone in low-light conditions, enabling dark mode is going to reduce eye strain and also increase the overall legibility of a screen display.
3. Greatly enhances design appearance
Compared to the illuminated white screen that hurt the eyes, the dark screen looks interesting, mysterious, and stylish. On a dark background, the concoction of bright colors enhances the appearance of the design while making it easy on the eyes. Take ATV Corpus Platform, for instance. The dark mode instantly makes the app appear classy while drawing attention to the vibrant Live TV, Gaming, and other thumbnails. This is a positive impact of dark on UX as users genuinely enjoy exploring the app.
4. Useful in highlighting specific elements
The dark mode setting makes the content on-screen pop out. The text, icons, images, and other elements stand out due to the contrast. This helps designers in highlighting the matter or information displayed on the screen. This is one of the reasons why Netflix uses the dark theme in its UI.
5. Reducing exposure to harmful blue light
Dark mode successfully reduces blue light and cuts glare, both of which help the eyes. Prolonged exposure to blue light can cause blurred vision, eye strain, dry eyes, and even insomnia. You can protect your eyes by switching to the dark mode theme.
When should you not use dark mode?
There’s no denying that this screen mode has a lot of benefits, especially when it comes to protecting your eyes and improving the visual appeal of an app. But, light text on a dark background can be extremely difficult to read during the day or in a well-lit sunny room. What’s more, if you have a smartphone with an older LCD screen, the dark mode theme is not going to save your battery.
Even if you are using computers, laptops, or phones with backlit LED screens, this mode is not going to help prolong battery because they don’t use less energy to project black. You must have noticed that even complete pitch dark scenes in a game or movie light up a room when viewed on LED screens.
What’s the verdict?
Dark mode is not just another trend because it is here to stay. The long list of benefits sings positive praises regarding the impact of the dark mode on UX. However, while this feature is great, it is not going to completely dethrone white screens. For starters, a dark screen is not a good choice when using your device in the morning or in a room that is well-lit. When there is enough light, this mode can harm the pupils of your eyes. Moreover, designers have to be very careful with this feature. After all, black is a powerful color and it can evoke strong emotions. If not used judiciously, it can make the design of the app unappealing and also unnatural.
What’s the best way to incorporate this feature, you ask? Dark mode theme is best used by offering users the option of switch-to-dark-mode feature within the app. This way users have the liberty to adjust their apps as per their viewing convenience.