How to Design Dark Mode: A 2020 Guide for Mobile App Designers

While operating in the market for a long time, the talks and then the official launch of Android 10 and iOS 13 brought Dark theme User Interface in the limelight. Both Apple and Google have been dedicating their resources and attention to the dark mode since the past one year.

With several ophthalmologists too getting on board with the dark mode initiative, the general user perception is also now inclined towards the adoption of the theme in their digital experiences.

Delivering the users what has now become a norm for them is something that the mobile app designers has to keep up with.

In this article, we are going to look into how the mobile app designers can get started with delivering a dark mode UI design experience to their users

Why should you pay attention to dark mode?
1. An In-demand Trend
Any trend-focused mobile app design company would tell you that for an app to be in trend, it is necessary that it is designed according to the recent market demands. Dark UI is the one design element that has been in-demand since the past one year. And seeing the present situation, it is only going to grow.

2. Health & Wellness
We all have in one or the other point in our life faced the shock of opening an app in a pitch dark night. The light that is emitted is too high and too sudden for eyes. Prolonged use of these apps have resulted in several instances of dry and itchy eyes among users.

Benefits of the dark mode comes into the picture by making it relaxing for users’ eyes to open and work on apps in the dark. It helps solve these persistent health and wellness issues, thus answering why is dark mode popular.

3. Saves Battery
Dark mode app design helps in prolonging the device’s battery life. Google confirmed that dark mode on OLED screens has been a game changer for the device’s battery life. YouTube, at its 50% brightness saves upto 15% more battery life in dark mode compared to flat background.

The benefits surrounding the holy dark mode are too popularized now to be ignored. But what is less talked about are the ill effects of dark mode UI – one that is UNHEALTHY.

What makes up for an unhealthy dark mode?
When reading a white text on black background, iris opens up more and gets in more light and lens deformation develops a fuzzier focus at eyes. This is called Halation or Fuzzing Effect, a.k.a one of the biggest dark mode app design challenges.

Unhealthy dark mode tends to be very harsh on the eyes because of the high contrast and can strain them very quickly.

If your phone or laptop is on highest brightness, you would have felt how straining it is to read the text on the left image.

But isn’t dark mode supposed to help with extending the battery life? Well, to some extent, Yes. However, it only impacts the devices having OLED and not ones with LCD.

In OLED, every pixel gives out its own illumination meaning to show darkness, the pixel must not light up at all. But since most of the OLED panels are limited to 60Hz refresh rate, scrolling makes the pixels light up and because of the slow refresh rate, a jiggly effect is caused.

Users, when exposed to this effect, end up feeling tired and worn out of their digital experience very soon. This event is what brings in the need and prevalence of design for dark themes.

Leave a comment