How dark mode is impacting your emails

Dark mode is an optional setting on your device that reverses the colour scheme of your device’s user interface from light to dark – impacting the look of your emails.

The popularity of dark mode has had a big impact on emails in the last year, and there’s a good reason.

Dark mode essentially minimizes blue light and enhances readability to reduce eye strain. Studies have shown that too much exposure to bright white and blue light can damage light-sensitive cells in the retina, which can often lead to eye strain and headaches in users. With dark mode, you can finally say goodbye to those dreaded problems, since using it can help reduce them significantly, especially when looking at your device under darker lighting conditions.

Light mode and dark mode displayed on phones

Some people also find that dark mode improves legibility, which is why many tools, such as Facebook Messenger and Adobe Suite have adopted it. Gmail, and Apple’s iOS have also all introduced dark modes, so the screen setting is definitely here to stay.

Side note: If your phone battery is a problem, dark mode can help with that, as it also reduces your screen brightness which in turn, can help you save on battery life – so many positivities! 

All the latest technology, such as smartphones, laptops, computers and so on, mostly now use OLED screens, and using dark mode with them can save up to 60% of battery life (even with brightness up 100%). 

The origin of dark mode

Andy Clarke, founder of web design studio Stuff & Nonsense, believes that dark mode originated from control centers, due to the very long hours of staring at computer screens, which would cause strained eyes and headaches. 

However, many people say that dark mode originated in the world of web developers, and today, over 70% of software engineers now code in dark mode – since most popular code editors all offer dark mode as an optional setting, as it increases readability and reduces eye strain (which is definitely what you’d want when sitting behind a computer screen for long hours at a time).

In the last 12 months alone, dark mode definitely shows no sign of slowing down. Besides the latest Tik Tok dances, it’s the latest trend amongst millennials.

So, even though the benefits of dark mode are undeniably great, there are also some major user experience issues that can come with an unfortunate price…

The disadvantages of dark mode

Reading a lighter coloured text on a darker coloured background can often lead to astigmatism (a syndrome that can cause blurred vision in one or both of the eyes). On the other hand, excessive time spent on the screen in light mode can cause myopia (a vision condition in which you can see objects near to you clearly, but objects farther away are blurry). 

At the end of the day, both light mode and dark mode have their ups and downs, and that all depend on your personal preference!

We suggest that the best way around it, is to use light mode during the day, and dark mode during the night – helping your eyes in both lighting conditions.

How dark mode effects email templates

When dark mode is switched on, the application will check for the background and font colours, and in order for it to do this check, the application will read through the code behind the email and once read, the background will change to a darker colour and all font colours will become lighter.

In the example below, you can see that the text has changed to white when it dark mode. Make sure each image section you build is the full width of the email, this will keep the email’s visual consistency across both light and dark coloured schemes.

Email opened on phone in light and dark mode

What clients support dark mode?

Dark mode is still relatively new and is currently not supported in all email clients (and likely never will be, or at least, not for a long time…)

Dark mode is currently only available for Gmail on Android 10 – 13, and iOS 13+, however, a lot of devices now have built-in options to activate dark mode.

Optimizing your emails for dark mode is a must. 

A large percentage of your email subscribers will be viewing your emails in dark mode, more so because Gmail is the world’s largest email provider. So, if your email isn’t readily optimized, you could risk losing clicks and overall engagement, and no one wants that!

Also, avoid dark grey or white transparent text images. These do not translate well when converted to dark backgrounds. Instead, render out the full section with the coloured background as one complete image. 

Always, always run tests!

Email clients are constantly changing, so it’s super important to make sure that you test your emails before you’re sending them! For example, you can do this by sending test versions of your email to each of these clients and viewing them.

Our platform mmunicMail integrates with two of the most popular email testing platforms: Litmus and Email on Acid. When used together, this means you can be sure that your emails will look and perform brilliantly in both light and dark modes – as well as on 90+ different email clients.

When it comes to email marketing, running tests is very similar to having your best friend tell you how good (or bad) you’re looking that day. It will tell you if the email looks good or bad to those who are receiving it on specific browsers/clients. So always runs tests, because you don’t want a bad looking email going out now, do you?

Written by

Team mmunic

Team mmunic


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