Eyes feeling a little tired lately? You’re not alone. About 70% of Americans experience something called “digital eye strain,” which can occur when your eyes have to focus and refocus multiple times a day. The more we use technology for both work and play, this focusing and refocusing is happening on bright white and backlit screens like computers and mobile devices.
Ouch. Luckily, the companies that make these screens are wising up to the damage we’re causing our tired little eyes, and they’re doing something about it.
At the end of last year, Apple introduced an eye-saving feature called Dark Mode on Mac computers.
What is Dark Mode?
Dark Mode is Apple’s attempt at making our bright, eye-straining screens less, well, straining. It features darker, more muted color palettes, where only the most important content is backlit to stand out.
Instead of viewing dark text and content on top of white backgrounds, Dark Mode inverts the colors on the screen so consumers can view light (typically white) text and content on top of dark backgrounds.
Who can view Dark Mode?
Upon release in late 2018, Dark Mode was available on Mac desktop and laptops. To enable Dark Mode, Mac users can go to their System Preferences, and click General. Then, under Appearance, select Dark. Note: Dark Mode is only available with the macOS Mojave update.
But later this year, Apple’s making Dark Mode available on iPhones and mobile devices with the latest iOS13 software update.
The feature is system-wide, so all Apple-created apps (the ones that come pre-installed on your smartphone or tablet) will support Dark Mode. Plus, third-party developers can now design apps to support Dark Mode.
Android offers similar dark theme options, but they don’t yet have a dedicated Dark Mode like Apple’s that spans all applications or devices.
To mimic the Dark Mode experience, Android users can adjust their device’s display settings. They’d visit Settings, choose Display, then tap Advanced. At the bottom of that page, the Device Theme option is available.
The Perks of Dark Mode
We’re about to sound more like a healthcare blog than a software blog, but hang in there with us. While Apple has occasionally been known to release flashy design updates for flashy design’s sake, this one isn’t one of those updates.
Dark Mode boasts important health benefits for consumers who opt to use it.
Switching to Dark Mode can:
- Reduce eye strain.
- Decrease and ease headaches.
- Improve sleep quality.
Think these health benefits don’t matter to business owners and marketers? Think again.
For consumers who experience negative symptoms from viewing bright white screens for long periods of time, Dark Mode can counteract those negative symptoms. This helps them prolong their screen-viewing attention spans.
In short? Happier, healthier consumers stare at their screens longer. And Dark Mode can help them do that.
So, marketers need to understand Dark Mode to take advantage.
Dark Mode in Email Marketing
Think about everything you view on your phone. Text messages, emails, your calendar, notes, social media, games, the list goes on.
Now ask yourself: Which apps will be most heavily impacted by a switch to Dark Mode?
The difference between current views and Dark Mode will be most noticeable for apps that currently use predominantly white backgrounds. These include common workplace apps like Calendar and Google Docs.
But there’s one app that will have a more dramatic impact from a shift to Dark Mode than others.
Mail, Apple’s email app, will appear startlingly different with Dark Mode’s adjusted interface.
So, how you design your emails for your business’s marketing initiatives is about to matter more than ever. You’ll need to format your emails such that when consumers choose to use Dark Mode, which they will more and more frequently, your business’s marketing emails can stand up to the switch.
Tips for Designing Emails for Dark Mode
There are several factors that make up your email marketing decisions to consider when designing emails for Dark Mode.
Focus on copy.
If your current email templates include full-screen images and video content, particularly any that are embedded as part of your email backgrounds, that’s a no-go for Dark Mode.
Dark Mode is most effective when it’s adapting simple text and symbols on top of a contrasting background. Simplify your email design as much as possible using less bright and fewer instances of imagery and videos.
Pro tip: When you use less imagery and videos, your copy becomes more and more important. Make sure the words you choose are few, simple, easy to understand, and tell your story.
Choose your font wisely, forgoing fine font weights.
Speaking of copy, the fonts you choose for emails design with Dark Mode in mind are also important.
It’s always best practice to build and design your marketing emails using one typeface or font family. Using too many font stylings is distracting and definitely won’t make your emails look professional.
When designing emails for Dark Mode, choose a simple, sans serif font. And, forgo light, fine font weights that could make your text disappear into the background. Lighter fonts can look clean in normal viewing mode, but in Dark Mode, they could cause consumers to have to squint.
Use contrasting colors.
Dark Mode is effective because despite its switch to a darker palette, it uses contrasting colors to make the important stuff stick out.
That said, if you typically make use of several adjacent colors on the color wheel (like orange and red, for example), you may want to adjust your strategy. Dark Mode and your email designers (including you, if you’re a team of one) will struggle to find alternative ways to present these colors.
Love icons? Use SF symbols.
App developers and marketers alike love using icons and symbols in their email marketing. That’s because they’re not as distracting as photos and videos are, but they make great design elements. They’re really handy for breaking up long strings of text.
Apple actually has Dark-Mode-approved icons, their own library of SF symbols, at your disposal. They’re already optimized for both light and dark modes, so you won’t have to worry about doubling your workload.
Trade outlines for solid shapes.
Not a fan of the out-of-the-box SF symbols?
It’s OK if you can’t resist the urge to create your own symbols and graphics. But if you want them to look great in Dark Mode, trade fine outlines for solid shapes. These will reduce the risk of your icons blending into the background or getting lost in the Dark Mode “darkness,” so to speak.