Better assume it, there are two types of people in this world. And we are not talking about political or social ideologies, but about the eternal fight between Dark mode and Light mode. We all have a preference according to what looks better to us but… have you ever asked yourself what is truly better?

Believe it or not, both Dark and Light mode have direct effects on our work efficiency, visual performance and eye health.

What is Dark Mode and why was it created?

Dark mode (also known as black mode, night mode or dark theme) is a type of screen display that uses a dark background with lighter text (negative contrast polarity). It is the opposite of Light mode, which uses a light background with dark text (positive contrast polarity).

Nowadays, the increasing popularity of Dark mode has made hard not to find it in any user interface. Dark mode’s point is to reduce the light that screens emit, while maintaining the readability. But, did you know how was it created?

At the beginning of computers, the default screen display was a black background with green text, this is, Dark mode – unlike today that every device has Light mode as its default display. The reason why is because that technology wasn’t able to illuminate the entire screen. Once the technology was capable of illuminating the screen without burning out, developers wanted to imitate ink on paper, and this is how Light mode was created and established as the new default display for computers. By means of this “ink on paper” strategy, they also tried to attract customers who weren’t just programmers.

What are the usability and visual differences of Dark mode compared to Light mode?

Everyone will agree that Dark mode is stylish and modern. It provokes mystery and seriousness with its sophisticated and classy display. It can be ideal for formal situations, especially because it transmits quality and strength. Dark mode is ideal when it comes to make use of these characteristics for marketing. By using a Dark interface, displays as the one that Netflix has, obtain not only the elegant and sophisticated design, but also a bigger attention on what ‘s important: the content.

On the other side, Light mode is simple and clear. It’s visual, clean, natural, and readable. Light mode can display information in a clearer and more visual way than Dark mode. A proper use of Light mode can give the display an image of purity and clarity, and the best example for this is Apple’s marketing.

When reading on Light mode, the reader involuntarily feels to be more awake and the text is highlighted. Exactly the opposite that occurs with Dark mode, which makes you pay special attention to the text because it sometimes can feel complex to read. Check these examples, you shouldn’t have difficulties to read them:

But when the text is larger, things change. The difficulties to read in Dark mode appear. Try reading these:

Did you feel it a little more annoying to read it in Dark mode? This is due to the effect of “halation”. When the background is black, the edges of the bright text blur, so this effect might complicate the reading. As you may have noticed, the bright text emits a reflection to the dark background nearby. It can be challenging to read long pieces of text this way, especially for users with visual impairments as astigmatism and/or myopia.

Which one should I use?

We came here to see how Dark mode and Light mode affect our productivity and eye health. Now that we have seen the context of these two types of display it’s time. Let’s see then!

Which one is better for work productivity?

When using Dark mode, battery consumption is considerably lower than with Light mode. This is because the device finds much easier to run the black background instead of lighting the entire screen. As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, this is exactly why the first computers had Dark mode as their default.

When it comes to visual-acuity tasks and proofreading tasks, studies have shown that people with normal and corrected vision perform better with Light mode. This means that text in Light mode is clearer and quicker to understand for people with normal or corrected vision. On the other side, Dark mode allows people with visual disorders to perform better. Dark mode also improves visibility in bright rooms e.g., a meeting room with a big screen. By showing the content in Dark mode, every participant will stay focused independently of reflections in the screen. Besides, Dark mode looks more sophisticated, modern and mysterious than Light mode. Aesthetics shouldn’t be ignored, as they play a crucial role in people’s productivity, comfortability and communication of information. It has been proven that people perform better when they feel comfortable and they like details of their job, and working using a visually amazing display helps.

Also, Dark mode emits less blue light, which reduces eye fatigue and blinking (dry eyes), especially in low light conditions. Dark mode contributes to a better sleep if you worked before going to bed, which can be translated in a better work efficiency on the next day. In addition, it has been proved that people with visual impairments and light sensibility stand better dark mode. Nevertheless, as we have seen, when reading large pieces of text in Dark mode, “halation” effect takes place, which triggers eye strain. So, Dark mode is not 100% anti-eye strain.

Which one is better for eye health?

In large amounts, blue light can increase the risk of eye disease. Although experts still need more proof, the long term exposure to blue light might carry retina damage, or at least, permanent vision changes. Wavelength and exposure time important when talking about the possible harm, which include the risk of macular degeneration and myopia, among others. This is why in the case of using Light mode for large periods, it is recommended to use a blue light filter.

Blue light is also popular for being not wanting you to rest. Using a device emitting blue light can lead you to poor sleep. With a prolonged exposure to blue light before sleeping, the sleep hormone melatonin’s release can be stopped. This is why experts recommend to avoid electronic devices at least 2 hours before going to bed, or if you have to unavoidably use them, use Dark mode or a blue light filter at least.

Dark mode has been claimed to be less harmful with our eyes in the long term, but as we have mentioned before, Dark mode can also be tiring when it comes to reading large pieces of text.

Conclusion and advice

From what we have said so far, the result is simple. The most likely to be better for efficiency and productivity would be Light mode. Studies have shown that people with normal or corrected vision have a better performance, however, people with stronger visual disorders will tolerate Dark mode better. But Light mode has a cost associated to the better performance, and it is the long-term risk of eye disease.

What would be the best decision then?

☀️ 🌙 Use both. Who said that this is a permanent decision? You can change according to the situation or your preference. If you just arrived at the office, maybe you feel on fire and you prefer Light mode to perform better and stay more awake. Maybe it is a sunny day, and you prefer to switch to Dark mode to let your eyes rest, and also show a graphic on the TV on Dark mode so your team don’t have difficulties to read it. Maybe you are planning on reading some extensive texts and prefer to read them in Light mode. If you are working late hours, maybe you prefer Dark mode so you ensure your later rest.

👁️❤️ Take care of your eye health. Using both doesn’t mean that you can switch every 5 minutes. Eyes need to get use to the brightness, so give them time and be conscious. Also, if you are going to sit down in front of a Light mode display for a long period of time in a single day, consider using a blue light filter.

Dashboard Hub’s potential with Dark Mode

Our development team has taken all this into account when designing our products. Our Dashboard Hub for Jira and Confluence makes things easy.

As experts recommend to be able to switch between Light and Dark mode to fit everyone’s preference, Dashboard Hub makes this the simplest thing in the universe. Our Light and Dark mode switch is located at the top of the app, so you can always easily access to it.

Dashboard Hub is also designed in order to not contain large pieces of text, so “halation” effect doesn’t occur. This way our Dark mode avoids eye strain as much as possible.

Our Dark mode is also designed to avoid reflections. By using a lighter black color in the gadgets, bright reflections are avoided in the biggest way possible. And by the way…. DON’T FORGET ABOUT AESTHETICS! Aesthetics are usually ignored when talking about a product’s utility but hey, we’ve put so much effort on making our Dark mode Jira dashboards look stunning. Inspiring quality with the design is important. Dashboard Hub allows you to report with style and communication your key metrics in a concise and clear way.

Last updated: 2022-11-22

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