Why an avid dark mode enthusiast stopped using dark mode?
I used to be a die-hard enthusiast of dark mode screens and designs. I loved the elegance and the simplicity they provided and always wanted to have more of it on all the apps and screens I used. There used to be long waits for the applications that rolled out dark modes and also trying out the beta versions just to have the dark mode as early as possible. But this has changed recently. I found that this is a mad rush without much meaning. Read on to find out the reasons I switched away from dark mode.
Why was I obsessed with dark mode?
Let’s be honest. The moment you have written your first HelloWorld program, you start to get a feeling of being “Neo” from “The Matrix”. All the techno-thriller movies I used to watch were sporting a dark background for the screens and terminals where hackers used to type away and all I had was the Windows system. This made me feel inferior and wanted to have some uniqueness and started to believe that “dark mode” = “hacker/geek/nerd”.
Time progressed and I was introduced to Ubuntu and the world of customization. This gave me immense avenues for customizing the system and loved the different themes and darker variants ( Oh the Compiz !! ). Also, I started feeling that dark mode was making my eyes feel better while spending too much time in front of the computer ( more about that later ! ). The unique system setup among my peers definitely garnered me some respect and I used to enjoy that.
Later on, the madness got hold of my mobile devices as well and being a loyal Android user, I always found my own ways to customize it with some themes and Cyanogen mod builds. While I was over obsessing with the dark mode, the entire world went awe for the same. Slowly almost everyone started to jump in the dark-mode bandwagon. Finally, I can have all my apps and devices colored dark.
But that was it !!. When everyone started using the dark mode, I felt the uniqueness slowly fading away and started understanding the silliness of my obsession. I finally started thinking practically and slowly understood that dark mode is just a fuss and my way of making myself ( or my system ) unique.
I finally switched to a light mode and found that there are certain things I miss about dark mode but has gained a lot of other things . I am listing them below.
Why is dark mode a fuss?
I have no opinion that dark mode is bad or light mode is good. The moment you have decided to spend time in front of a computer, your eyes are going to take the brunt one way or another. In the following sections, I am going to list out some of the things that I feel are not right about the dark mode thing.
Myth: Dark mode is better for eyes
No, never. The best you could say is that “dark mode on low light ( like night ) is slighlty better for your eyes”.
You may feel that the dark mode is less tiring as the eyes do not need to get wider for allowing more light. But this could be damaging in some other ways.
- Even if you make all applications dark, you still have somethings that are light.
For eg: Webpages, your website previews, mail, documents, etc. You can make them also dark, but certain things you can’t( Remember, not everyone is mad about dark-mode. So you can’t tell your team lead that I will only work on the dark mode of our new corporate site ). This requires your eyes to switch between dark IDE and a light browser. Trust me, this is more tiring for your eyes than sticking to a single theme.
- Dark mode != “happy eyes”.
Don’t get carried away by all the bull*** that’s going around with the benefits of a dark screen for the eye. Dark mode can only help you in a dark environment.
Consider yourself working on a sunny day on your laptop with dark mode and suddenly you look around. You can feel the strain in the eye for accommodating the difference in lighting. That being said, you can definitely get the benefit of a poorly lit environment in the dark mode where the lighting gets compensated.
- Brightness matters
If you are using a dark theme, you are required to put the screen brightness at a higher level than you would do in case of light color for clear visibility. This will again cause eye strain when you are required to switch to the lighter screen ( for scenarios discussed in the first point ) and there the brightness may feel uncomfortable. While using the light mode, I was able to maintain a consistent and comfortable low brightness for my screen.
Dark mode saves battery
Yes, but very marginally ( and that too only if you have an AMOLED screen ).
This is one of the most common benefits told to be associated with dark mode. Its currently only applicable in the case of mobile devices as yet to see widespread adoption of AMOLED screen in the laptop dept. The AMOLED screens can save the battery as they only consume battery for lit-up pixels only. While this is true, the benefits from this is marginal due to below reasons.
- Most of the dark themes are not fully black. They are mostly a dark grey variant and this does not warrant any battery saving.
- The maximum average black area in an application could be less and this does give much battery-saving benefit.
Overall, I feel that you could save more battery by just disabling the sync for a less frequently used mail account in your mobile device than by the dark mode.
Dark mode steals away the beauty of UI.
There is no denying the fact that dark mode designed apps are elegant and that it requires some great talent to create pleasing UI with dark colors. But there is an inherent limitation on the colors and hues that can be used in a dark design. I have felt that the application and the UI looked more elegant and vibrant in the light mode.
Another fact is that, even though there is a real race for bringing up dark mode for all the apps, the dark mode is still an afterthought for the designs and application creators ( there are some exceptions like Spotify who followed a dark scheme from the beginning). Also, some of the application developers are creating a dark-mode design just for the sake of having one to match the new standards and definitely feel incomplete with rough edges.
Even if you are coding, try using a lighter theme for some time and maybe you would love the legibility of the font and the syntax highlighting better.
After spending a lot of time on dark mode, I felt light mode ( or should we say normal mode ?? ) like a different world altogether. The colors are vibrant and the mood is light.
Practicality of dark mode.
I have understood that the practicality of dark mode is quite questionable for some application UIs and use-cases. Like I said in the beginning, I had put all the applications in dark mode initially and that included the email client also. Due to the obsession of “dark-mode everything”, I always overlooked the issues like font legibility. The dark background in the mail and the light signature from senders all looked like a mess. But I didn’t care at that time as I had a dark UI for everything :).
Finally , the mood.
This is totally personal opinion.
I feel that the light mode has got a “happy mood ” and a positive vibe. This could be just that I was using dark mode for quite some time and is just feeling the “difference”.Maybe.
I used to have an abstract dark background as wallpaper to go in line with the dark theme on my desktop as well as on the phone home screen. I have changed both of them to some welcoming natural landscape and could definitely see the difference. This has become a more positive and sets a lighter ambiance when you open the system.
I would like to end with a note that I am not pushing a light mode agenda here. What I wanted to share was my experience and the things I learned from switching to a normal mode.
End of the day, the mode you use for your screen, whether dark or light has got nothing much to do with what you are trying to accomplish. You should follow what is comfortable for you and your line of work.
Happy coding !!