UI/UX: Dark Mode Implications for Your Marketing Efforts

By Madison Taylor
June 1, 2022
computer with a dark background only illuminated by the screen light

Dark mode settings affect a customer’s or user’s overall online experience, and brands need to pay close attention to the pros and cons to achieve the ideal user response. A dark mode design refers to any website or application characterized by a light-on-dark color scheme, with white text against black backgrounds (i.e., dark mode inverts conventional black-on-white layouts).

Marketers may refer to dark mode layouts in alternate terms, including night mode, black background, and dark theme. Also, marketers may apply different hex codes in dark mode web designs to complement their brand theme, going beyond #000000 (pure black) and #FFFFFF (pure white).

Aside from influencing website user experiences, dark mode settings have implications for email marketing, mobile applications, and other advertising channels. However, brands should note that the dark format might not work for every website.

While dark mode layouts remain a prevalent choice in modern marketing strategies, content developers need to consult their web personas to align the best fit.

Leverage the Pros of Dark Mode Designs

Dark mode designs enable users to focus on other artistic elements on a page, especially graphic components such as images and videos. The dark/black background removes focal distractions to make the content’s message, style, and purpose pop from the rest of the design.

Many applications have included the dark/night mode feature, providing users with an alternate viewing experience according to their environment. Some notable adopters of night mode include Outlook 365, Windows 10, and Meta/Facebook. Additionally, mobile operating systems Android and IoS offer device-wide dark mode settings for convenience.

Reduces Eye Strain

Studies show that white-on-black settings prevent eye strain, especially when users browse content under low lighting, reducing blue light emissions. Although dark mode works specifically well with graphics, the layout might not work as effectively for copy-heavy websites.

Improves Battery Life

Night mode reduces the light emitted from mobile devices, ultimately increasing their battery life, giving users more time to browse online content without disruption. However, the dark mode’s battery-conserving function only applies to mobile devices with organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screens.

Consider the Cons of Dark Mode

Despite the advantages of the layout, content developers should stay mindful of the potential downside associated with dark mode, which could backfire on the overall UX/UI design.

For instance, the earliest dark mode version catered to non-HTML text emails, but the visual theme gradually applied to all email types. Marketers may face formatting issues if they switch their email content from standard light mode to a dark theme without following the proper steps and solutions (i.e., email clients).

A miscalculated process might result in jumbled text, misaligned images, and other aesthetic changes that compromise the online user experience.

Accessibility Matters

Web accessibility remains integral in modern site design, providing a universality where users can access content swiftly and efficiently regardless of ability. Therefore, the more accessible a website, the broader the reach of a company’s online content.

While dark mode can raise a website’s accessibility, it depends on a user’s immediate lighting conditions. A night mode design might cause visibility issues under some scenarios, such as reducing the effectiveness of focus indicators for users who depend on keyboard commands for site navigation.

Individuals with dyslexia, who comprise an estimated 5-10% of the U.S. population, might experience difficulty viewing content through the total contrast of dark mode settings. Generally, users and customers with dyslexia opt for lighter background designs with a suitable contrast level for optimized viewing.

Inconsistent Application

Marketers and content developers may lack the expertise and solutions for consistently applying dark mode settings across all branding channels. There might be poor configurations, resulting in stark contrast of bright white text against pure black backgrounds.

These glaring compositions may cause discomfort for users and limit both the aesthetic appeal and the browsing experience.

Final Thoughts

Dark mode is an effective means of personalizing and optimizing UX. However, content creators should apply the most suitable approach that matches their brand and target audience. There are some specific challenges to consider, such as the structured steps taken in planning email development to ensure that design elements remain seeable and adequately formatted.

When it comes to email design and marketing campaigns, there are specific measures that marketers may include to improve dark theme content. These include choosing a neutral-colored highlight for images (i.e., brand logos) that makes the content equally discernible across light and dark modes and limiting text placement within images (some email clients may mark high image-to-text ratio content as spam).

With more apps and search engines (including Google) implementing dark mode options that affect ad searchability, marketers need to consider the long-term advantages of creating content that remains accessible across light and dark modes. A swappable design theme strategy could keep users engaged regardless of the chosen viewing mode while ensuring optimized browsing throughout the day.