Dark mode UX has come to Facebook. Is it really suitable for your business?

Jun 1, 2020 | UX Guide, User Research

During the design phase, one of the very first decisions to make is on the colour scheme for the UX. Putting aside the company’s colour and branding guidelines, it’s a decision between the light or dark side. What is Dark Mode UX? Is it really suitable for your business?

Dark Mode on Facebook

Facebook News Feed Dark Mode

Facebook’s new dark mode (photo credit: TechCrunch)

Dark mode UX has come to Facebook after much waiting and anticipation! But what is it all about? Is it really suitable for your business? Let’s take a look:

What is Dark Mode?

Dark mode utilizes dark gray as the primary colour for the background and components compared to the very commonly used white background. Switching to dark mode changes the light background to a dark colour and changes the text from dark to light.

There’s no standard for the dark mode palette, some choose to have dark gray or black as the background colour, or even hues such as dark blue or slate.

Light and dark mode UX

Benefits of Dark Mode UX

Dark mode UX helps to reduce eye strain, which can be a health benefit but this also means that there is one less reason for people to leave your website.

For a lot of people, nighttime after work or school is the most convenient time for them to spend on the internet, because they are busy during the day. During the night, any website that has a lot of bright white space is very straining on the eyes, especially if they are unwinding before going to bed, causing them to leave the website because it causes too much discomfort.

By using dark mode UX, the eyes are less strained, making it more comfortable for people, thus allowing them to spend more time on a website, even during the day.

In addition to reduced eye strain, dark mode UX also gives off a very sleek aesthetic, effecting the visual and emotional perception of website or app in making it feel more stylish and dramatic.

Is Dark Mode Suitable for Your Business?

Dark mode isn’t one-size-fits-all, successful websites and apps that use dark mode are usually visual-based with minimal text such as Netflix and Spotify where the content really stands out from the dark background. So instead of going with an assumption and risking the user experience of your product, let’s look at some questions to determine whether dark mode is suitable for your business:

Is your content more textual or visual?

The background colour affects the readability, which is how easy or hard it is for users to read the written text. Readability is an important usability consideration, dark backgrounds with light coloured text lowers readability..

Readability - Light VS Dark

A light background is a better option for large bodies of text which requires a long period of time to read, which is why news websites and blogs tend to use a white background.

News website - light mode

Dark text on a light background aids readability.

For highly visual websites and apps that don’t require much reading, dark mode UX is better suited in creating a distinction-free layout and for maintaining the user’s attention.

Coffee website - dark mode

Minimal text and visual elements pop against dark backgrounds.

Does your product have a complex interface?

For products with a complex interface such as programming, design and analytics applications, dark mode UX allows the content to come to the forefront with the interface fading into the background for better focus. As a result of this, the core elements are more prominent.

Programming IDE - dark mode

Dark mode UX allows more focus on coding

Dark mode enables the dark background to absorb and soften other elements, this helps to reinforce the ability in scanning the information at a glance. For complex interfaces such as Bloomberg Professional, with so many numbers to look at, the dark background makes it easier for the user to read.

Bloomberg - dark mode

What is the emotional perception you want to invoke?

Colour impacts the emotions of users, the main colour of a website has the ability to invoke an emotional perception. Shades of black or dark colours often invoke a sense of elegance, prestige, and sleekness.

Instagram - Dark Mode Creative agency - dark mode

In what environment will your product or website be used?

It’s worth considering the environment and time of day that the majority of users will use your product. If you’re not sure of this, consult an analytics professional to find out more information.

The selected background should ideally match the environment, light interfaces for products mainly used during the day, and dark interfaces for products mainly used at night. The matching of the interface to the environment enables a low contrast between the product and the user’s environment.

This is why a majority of entertainment products have a dark mode UX, because evenings are usually reserved for entertainment. Netflix is a great example in utilizing dark mode UX, it mimics a movie theatre experience at home since movies are often watched with dimmed lights.

Netflix - dark mode

Who are your target users?

It’s important to know who your target users are and their style preferences, different user groups have different expectations and tastes. For example, the elderly may prefer a light background with bigger font sizes and media whereas a toddler may prefer a dark background with only visual elements and minimal text.

A good way of gauging this without conducting user research is to check out the competition. Looking at successful close competitors’ products can provide an understanding of which design solutions are your best bet.

When you should use dark mode UX:

  • If the branding colour scheme suits
  • When there is minimal text, sparse design with more visual elements
  • If it matches the user’s environment, such a nighttime entertainment products
  • To create an emotional perception such as elegance, intrigue or dramatic
  • If it reduces eye strain, such as programming or analytics but not for reading

When you should not use dark mode UX:

  • When there’s a large amount of reading, such as news articles or books
  • If there’s a large mixture of content
  • When the design colour scheme calls for a wide variety of colours

If you have answered all the questions above and gone through the bullet points and decided that the dark mode UX is indeed suitable for your business, then let me be the first to welcome you to the dark side.


Image Source Credits:
  • techcrunch.com
  • material.io
  • thestar.com.my
  • twochimpscoffee.com
  • www.eclipse.org
  • play.google.com
  • coolmaterial.com
  • femmefatale.paris
  • netflix.com

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