Rahul Pandey

Dark mode is broken

August 12, 2022 | 1 Minute Read

The world’s crazy about the dark mode. Companies that add dark mode, release it with huge fanfare. Dark mode even uses less power so is good for your battery and environment.

The problem is that it’s terribly done. It hurts my eyes.

With light mode, it’s easy. There is only one white. Even if it’s a variation of white (like off-white or sepia), it’s still light. Our screens and eyes automatically adjust to light backgrounds. We are used to reading with light background; be it paper or screen.

With dark mode. There is no one black. Even if you use 000000 it will still look different on different displays - LCD, LED, AMOLED, CRTs, etc. Some displays would make the pixel dark but there would be a backlight so black is not black. Others would have it without any backlight, making it true black. And this is only black. There are innumerable variations of black. Then there are darker colours. Then there is the problem of having harmony between various foreground elements like buttons and icons with the dark background.

How to fix dark mode?

Come together as an industry and create an RFC/specification. That has a huge list of dark colour combinations that are eye-friendly and work across different display technologies and implementations.

But that’s not going to happen so I as a product manager/designer/QA would do the following:

  • Get a list of devices (monitors, phones, tablets, refrigerators, etc) that the product will run on. (You’ll already have data on this, except for monitors).
  • Understand display technologies and their implementations by different vendors.
  • Come up with a design template (bg colour, font size, font names, font colours) that is easy on the eyes, easy to read and looks appealing.
  • Test with actual devices.

P.S I really like how Twitter have done it with dim mode, LinkedIn with their dark mode.

What are your fav dark mode implemented apps?

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