Everything You Need to Know about Dark UI in Web Design

The dark user interface (UI) feature that can be seen on many modern websites is, without a doubt, a great feature, and various studies have been conducted to reveal the benefits of having a dark background.

If you think your site may benefit from a dark background, you should get a hold of a web design agency that would be capable of introducing this change in the best way possible. Don’t fix anything that is already working properly, so if your site already delivers quality leads and provides high conversion rates, maybe you don’t need to include a dark UI at all. In addition, if you still don’t have a website for your company and you have just decided that it’s time to create one, make a list of ideas and then take them to a design agency, like Clay in San Francisco, that will create the best website for your company according to your needs.

But first, let’s take a look at what a dark UI actually is, why it’s good for your site, and how it can boost your site’s overall effectiveness.

Dark UI in a Nutshell

A dark theme is a term for a user interface that utilizes high volumes of dark screen displays, often toggled on and off by the use of an icon or setting controls. The dark theme emits less light and leverages dark gray for primary surface colors. This not only helps to maintain a high usability standard, but the lighter text against a dark grey surface also exudes finer contrast than bright text against a black background. Additionally, the darker background helps visibility by reducing the amount of strain required by the viewers’ eyes.

Understanding the Benefits of a Dark UI

Reduction of eye strain was the primary purpose of including dark themes in application design. However, a dark background also promotes better focus by eliminating the distraction of unused white spaces on certain webpages.

To its primary purpose, dark mode is beneficial in terms of health, reducing irritation and discomfort on eyes, making text and images against a darker background easier to see and not just during nighttime hours.

Does a Dark UI Actually Help Save Energy?

Dark backgrounds consume far less power than their lighter counterparts. For instance, using a Google Pixel at the highest light setting results in six times as much power being consumed as its dark-most counterpart.

However, the smartphone device is a significant factor in just how much more energy is consumed by the light background versus a dark one. As devices use different screens, dark mode is optimized best for OLED and AMOLED screens. While, according to Google, the impact of dark themes is minimal on LCD screens, devices with AMOLED screens, such as the iPhone XS, can save as much as 63% in power consumption. This is the primary reason that the tech companies that produce smartphones are moving away from LCD technology while shifting their focus on devices that save energy while operating in dark mode.

Because laptops and computer monitors emit significant amounts of blue light, a dark mode can still be effectively utilized on those as a blue-light mitigating filter, helping late-night browsers and those who spend significant hours in front of a computer deal with less irritating health effects, including headaches. However, this does not conserve any significant energy when on LCD screens. The full potential of dark UI can truly be experienced with devices that incorporate AMOLED and OLED screens.

Dark UI and Color Perception

It is important to remember that when it comes to night filters on both Android and iOS devices merely cause an illusion of reduced eye strain. These night filters notoriously suffer from display distortions and discolorations.

A darker background, however, is more aware of aesthetics. These backgrounds serve three primary purposes:

  • Reducing eye strain and tension.
  • Limiting display distortion of images.
  • Using muted colors that require less operating power to display, saving energy in the process.

Tips on Dark UI Design

If you have been sufficiently tempted to come to the ‘dark side’ there are a few useful tips to consider before doing so.

Dark UI Design Tip #1: Let Users Choose Between Dark and Light Modes

While it is not possible to please everyone with varying preferences of screen modes, giving users a choice is a must. Rather than imposing a particular mode on a user and locking them into using it assuming that they will like it, designers are advised to give users options, allowing them to select their preferred operating mode. Aside from people who might prefer the dark mode over light mode, and the other way round, it is important to consider those users who will opt to toggle between the two at their convenience.

Dark UI Design Tip #2: Avoid Pure Black

Dark mode may trigger the idea of using a black background, but that is however an ill-advised approach. Completely black backgrounds can irritate eyes more so than the bright mode. While dark modes are used to guard people’s eyes against overly bright colors, using a purely black background actually makes it hard for users to distinguish things on the screen.

If the primarily used color of the app or site is pure white, a pure black background ends up having far worse effects. Instead of using a black background, apps should utilize a shade of dark or light grey.

Dark UI Design Tip #3: Desaturated Colors

Much like using purely black coloring can hurt eyes, using profoundly bright and saturated coloring schemes can cause eye strain when users try to decipher the written text. Rather than using the brightest possible version of the color scheme, it’s best to choose a more neutral version. The colors will still look visually appealing, but will not strain the viewer’s eyes. After all, there is no need to turn away prospective clients due to inefficient color scheme choices.

Dark UI Design Tip #4: Take Advantage of Depth

When designing your app, especially in dark mode, it is important to consider the visual depth and understand how to advantageously use it to create a hierarchical sense between your design comprising elements.

While shadows can be used in lighter modes to convey an element being elevated from the background, that effect is harder to achieve in a dark mode as shadows cannot be seen well. To get around this dark mode limitation, it is better to use lighter colors to offset the dark background to create the illusion of depth. Remember that the higher the surface’s elevation is, the more pronounced its lighting becomes.


While there are quite a few advantages of adding a dark UI to your website, you should always focus on your target audience first. As mentioned above, don’t fix it if it works. But if you decide that your site really needs this approach, be smart about it. Luckily, you can always rely on a professional web design agency to provide you with all the necessary assistance.

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