Look around the web – it’s Dark Mode everywhere. And now, with iOS13 and MacOS getting in touch with their darker sides, it’s even more prolific. Every app, every website, every interface must be as black as night, and the text must be as white as snow. Ask anyone you know and the answer will always be “Dark Mode is just better”.
As an old Windows Phone user, this whole dark mode is not really new to me. The interface, the apps, the whole experience was dark. And it looked good – it suited the flat aesthetic. Yet even there, where it was built for dark mode first, I found myself switching to the light mode, or white theme.
Was I just being counter-culture? Or rebelling against what a company was forcing me to use? Or maybe I just wanted to be different to everyone else?
No, it goes deeper than that. And only since Windows 10 got its real dark black, blacker-than-a-black-hole, mode did I start to wonder why I seem to always default to the light theme.
You see, Windows and some app devs have got it wrong – no one wants pure white text on pure black background. Change it to a few shades lighter, like a dark grey, and soften the colour of the text and it will look a whole lot nicer. It wont be so stark, so black and white, if you will. Pun intended! MacOS has got this perfect – instead of a pure night theme, you have soft dark grey through out. Which is easier on the eyes.
And while the above may be my preference, there is actually some studies about why I can’t really do pure black dark mode. See, I have a problem with my eyes. Its called astigmatism and apparently it makes it really super hard, not to mention uncomfortable, to read pure white text on pure black backgrounds. The eye can’t focus, so it has to work harder, which then leads to headaches or eye fatigue. And apparently this type effects over 50% of the worlds population. There’s a great write up here on what I see when there is white text on a black background.
What I am trying to say is that, no, I am not trying to be different. I am just physically uncomfortable when it comes to pure black themes. While it looks awesome in press slides, and screenshots, its just not usable by half the population.
Now don’t get me wrong – I love the option and the fact that there is a choice now in just about everything. I am just hoping to find a middle ground – I love the look of the dark greys and white text on that – it comes across as much, much smarter to me. At least make the dark grey an option along with light theme and dark mode.
For all its faults, Twitter does this best I find…
With the whole focus on accessibility that’s going through the tech sector, this is one aspect that they have continued to overlook.