dark UI - cover

Dark UI Design: What Is It and Why Do People Love It?

12 min
Dec 06, 2023

The dark user interface (UI) has been leading the top trends in platform design. Its luxurious look and advantages make people switch to dark mode more often, and the statistics of dark UI usage confirm this. As of 2020, 90% of software developers have used dark-mode programs for a better experience. Reddit mobile applications claim that 78% of readers prefer dark palettes for improved readability. And on Facebook, the popularity of dark design has risen by 56%.Before choosing the “dark side”, let’s see what this dramatic theme means in design and how to create a meaningful picture with the help of a dark palette.

The Concept of Dark UI and its Growing Appliance on Different Digital Products

People have been used to reading on light screens since the early days of the press. However, the challenges in designing various digital products have led to further development, and thus, using dark colors has become a successful design strategy. Dark UI design is about the dramatic look, elegance, power, and hidden meanings. But behind the aesthetic side, building an application in the dark-colored mode offers health benefits. Most modern applications and software-as-a-service (SaaS) products have implemented the lights-out design mode. It helps users stay longer on the platform without feeling tired. The same tendency is gaining popularity in gaming development. The shades of black perfectly reflect the visuals of the characters and environment.

Dark UI vs Light UI

Despite its stylish nature, a dark interface doesn’t suit all digital products. And there is always a battle between choosing a dark or light-colored design. Here is what to take into consideration between these two themes:

Dark UI vs. Light UI

  • Readability. Readability is always better with a light interface. This is why many blogs and online newspapers prefer a light palette. However, if your product is for long-term use and interaction with content like Google Docs or Microsoft Word, there should be an option to choose a dark UI.
  • Context of usage. Before building a design strategy, it is important to analyze the future environment of the target audience: will they be using your product during the day or at night? That is why the BBC news website is decorated in light colors, as people often read news in the daylight. And this is why Netflix uses a dark UI, as we like to watch films in the evenings.
  • Type of the product. The main principle in the UI design is to make the product usable. If you choose a dark theme for a banking application that has different types of content and displays graphics and statistics, the usability level will be poor. However, when the design is minimalistic, and there is an entertainment note — a dark UI color palette can be suitable.

The Psychology of Black Color in UI

Behind every color, a hidden meaning influences users’ reactions to it. The psychology of a dark color palette involves the following senses.

psychology of black color in UI

The Feeling of Sophistication, Luxury, and Modernity

The color black is always associated with elegance and delivers a powerful message. Many prosperous companies use a dark theme to emphasize their stylish and futuristic concepts. However, for some people, a black theme relates to something tragic and dramatic. Indeed, it may acquire such a meaning if not properly paired with other colors and UI elements.

The Contrast of Feelings

The black color always serves as a background. However, dark UIs are unique because of their contrast with other content elements. This particularity can make everyday objects look special and have another meaning.

Relaxing and Entertaining Note

Among digital products that implement dark UI the major part is taken by the entertainment sector. This is because the atmosphere matches the platforms’ purpose. Most events take place in the evening when there is no bright lighting. That is why the black palette on TV providers is associated with relaxation and leisure time.

Reducing the Strain on the Eyes and Improving Focus

Research on excessive use of gadgets shows that almost everyone on the planet uses mobile devices daily: they count 6.9 billion users. Most of them suffer from eye strain caused by spending too much time staring at computer devices. The dark theme UI helps to reduce tension and discomfort in the eyes.

The contrast between the text and the background- the main component of dark UI- reduces eye tension. Thus, we don’t have to force ourselves to perceive the content but can easily follow it. Black colors also reduce blue light, the first cause of eye strain and blurry vision.

Main Principles of Dark UI Design

Certain rules must be followed to design a product with a dark theme. The following tips will help you achieve the desired result.

Choosing the Right Color Palette

Designing dark UI doesn’t refer to setting every element in a pure black color. Material Design by Google advises using the shade of gray (#121212) for the background. The same rule should be applied to white fonts: the text should not be purely white. For dark UI, it is more complicated to choose the right contrasting colors as they look different when displayed on the black surface. So even those shades that pair with a light background might not pair with a dark one.

Setting Typography and Text Optimization

The key consideration in the dark user interface is how to display content to meet readability standards. It is important to create the right contrast on the black background so that every piece of text remains perceptible. Displaying small fonts is not recommended, as they are less visible than on a light surface. For that matter, it is essential to comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0.

Dark UI Design for Different Platforms

SaaS products, websites, and mobile applications use the dark mode. The concept of dark UI will be substantially the same for all platforms. Still, different types of platforms have unique demands that make them adhere to the dark UI.

dark UI design

Dark UI Design for Mobile Applications

The implementation of dark modes increased simultaneously with the development of clients’ demands. This is connected to several reasons, such as the increased use of OLED screens, the overall time spent inside the smartphone, the necessity of meeting certain styles, etc. Dark palettes help apps imitate light levels while maintaining a unique style and high level of accessibility.

Dark UI Design on Web

The whole concept of dark modes started way before the app industry. Monochrome themes have been commonly used on computers for some time. As a result, history has become a trend again since dark mode received a second life. Dark colors in web UI help increase users’ involvement, highlight the necessary items, and evoke positive emotions. It is preferable to use the dark UI for platforms where visual content is prevailing, and it’s not desirable to do it when pages contain a lot of text content.

Dark UI Design in SaaS Development

The SaaS development sphere is represented by most modern messengers, social media, and networks. The use of dark colors in software services is dictated by the necessity of increasing engagement and improving the user experience. Both big-size and startup companies prefer the dark mode over the light one. It doesn’t lead to a complete extension of the light mode. Nevertheless, plenty of SaaS services provide users with a choice between light and dark UI modes.

Dark UI Design Inspiration

Let’s look at examples of services that successfully implement the best practices of dark UI.

Vinny’s Bakery

One of the most recent examples of dark UI is presented on the Vinny’s Bakery website. Their well-chosen background resembles a cutting board that matches the product they sell. The design is minimalistic and contains interactive elements and minimal text. The UX elements, like buttons for adding a product to a shopping basket or prices, conspicuously catch the eye.

Skeuomorph Mobile Banking

The skeuomorph mobile banking example has a futuristic view for dark UI. The application design looks modern and only displays the most necessary information for a user. When combined, the shades of black and contrasting bright colors form a harmonic picture. The main buttons, like balance or expenses, are highlighted, and the image is concise yet informative.

MuscleBooster Application

Dark mode UI design is thoroughly integrated into the MuscleBooster application. Even though this fitness app contains a lot of diverse content, it is not overloaded and has the information in moderation. The images are selected to match the color palette, and the UI elements stand out from the main picture.


A dark user interface is a trending decision for making a digital product more stylish and extraordinary. Its concept is focused on providing an aesthetic look to the platform and evoking feelings of modernity and luxury.

Knowing the main principles for designing a mobile app, SaaS product, or website in dark UI is crucial. Before considering this design strategy, the platform’s purposes and target audience needs should be deeply understood.

With the help of a dark user interface, designers can achieve a result where contrast and black shades create a harmonic and sophisticated picture.

by Ivan Klyzhenko
UX Startup Advisor, Uitop


What are the benefits of dark UI design?

Dark UI themes have various outstanding advantages that make them preferable among users. For example, it’s proven that the contrast in dark UI has less effect on the user’s eyes, leads to positive emotions, and significantly helps increase customer engagement.

What is the psychology of black color?

Behind the visual picture of black color, there are many meanings. The first ones carry the message of luxury and power. Many popular companies make their visual content seem serious and exceptional in a black palette. But on top of these associations, there are also dramatic motives. And it is the designers’ task to create the right association.

What to choose: bright UI or dark UI?

The choice should be based on your product’s features and purposes. To select the right theme, it is important to research the users’ needs and the environment in which they will use the product. Dark UI suits the best for entertainment and minimalistic design.

What digital products can have a dark user interface?

A dark-colored interface can be a match for all types of digital products. It can equally create an aesthetic look on websites, apps, and SaaS platforms. However, every product type will demand a personalized approach to design.

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