Dark mode in email – all you need to know

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Designing for email and why its important

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What is dark mode?

Latest updates to the Apple OS, iOS, Windows and Android have enabled the “dark mode” option. This is sometimes referred to as “night mode”.

It’s often referred to as colour inversion but that isn’t the case.
There are some themes out there for various apps and also settings that allow for colour inversion. Colour inversion swaps dark colours for light ones and vice versa and different modes are available for many apps. Email service providers simply refer to the use of dark background with white text.

And it’s thought to cause less strain on a user’s eyes and also help eyes focus on what they’re viewing.

Benefits for email

• Light text on a dark background is much better for minimising eye strain because it’s easier on the eyes. Especially in low-light situations.
• Dark mode reduces screen brightness and saves your battery life.
• Also it can improve content legibility and make it easier for some users to see content on desktop and mobile.
• Users may simply just prefer darker interfaces.

What makes it popular?

Recommended by some optometrists
• Light text on a dark background can reduce eye strain, but there is some dispute about this claim amongst optometrists.
On-trend now
• Many people turn it on just because it is “something new” and they want to try it out. It’s a new option but most devices default to light mode and not all apps are updated for dark mode.
More comfortable
• Some users find it more comfortable to read on dark screens, especially in low light.
Saves your battery life
• Google confirmed dark mode on Android saves battery life by up to 50% on devices with OLED screens. Such as Samsung Galaxy S10 and Huawei Mate P30.

Wired confirmed dark mode has no impact on the battery life if the device uses an LCD screen. For example the iPhone X was Apple’s first mobile using an OLED screen.

Which email clients support dark mode?

Mobile Apps
• Gmail App (Android) • Gmail App (iOS) • Outlook App (Android) • Outlook App (iOS)
Desktop Clients
• Apple Mail • Outlook 2019 (Mac OS) • Outlook 2019 (Windows)
Web Clients
• Outlook.com

Email clients offer ways to set their user interfaces to dark colour schemes. But it doesn’t mean they handle your emails the same way.

Perfect email rendering is complex and an email that looks great in one client might look broken in another. Dark Mode adds another layer of complex to the email build and testing processes. 

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