How to Optimise Your Emails for Dark Mode

|by Demi-Leigh Donohoe

Dark mode is becoming more and more popular, and now it’s taking over email.

While many users are excited about their inboxes moving to the dark side, it’s created a bit of a headache for email marketers.

As if optimising our emails for different email clients and devices wasn’t complex enough, now we’ve got to make sure that our emails look great when dark mode is switched on, too.

However, this trend isn’t going away. Designing for dark mode is important for accessibility purposes.

In this post, we’re discussing what dark mode is, why it’s becoming more popular, and how you can optimise your email marketing campaigns for this setting.

What is dark mode?

Up until a couple of years ago, most apps and operating systems displayed their content with a white background and black text. Dark mode, also called black mode, night mode, or dark theme, is a reverse colour scheme that uses light elements and text on a dark background.

Dark mode is a digital design trend that has grown in popularity over the last year. Most popular apps now allow their users to switch to dark mode, such as Facebook Messenger, Slack, and Twitter. There’s even a dark mode option on several smartphones.

Why is dark mode so popular?

Dark mode was introduced to mobile phones to increase battery life by reducing the required screen brightness.

Many users have come to prefer dark mode because:

  • It saves battery life – Dark mode reduces screen brightness which generally improves a smartphone’s battery life.
  • It’s easier on the eyes – It’s said that light text on a dark background reduces eye strain, especially in a low-light environment.
  • It’s more accessible for some – Dark mode provides an improved user experience for those that have a visual impairment, or those with migraines or other visual disorders.
  • It lets users choose – Some users simply have a personal preference for a dark interface and will choose to use it all the time.

The benefits of dark mode make it clear that it’s here to stay, which means it’s time for email to adapt.

How to optimise your emails for dark mode

In order to optimise your email template for dark mode, you should:

Use transparent images

Try and use transparent images or PNGs to make sure your images look clean no matter what the background colour of your email is.

Be aware if any of your images or icons are dark colours - these might look great on a light background, but they'll blend in once your email is in dark mode. You might want to adjust the styling options of any dark imagery.

If transparency isn't an option then make sure you've got enough padding around the image to stop it looking awkward and out of place.

Optimise your logo

If your logo is black or dark on a transparent background, this will end up disappearing on dark backgrounds as it's black on black. Email clients in dark mode won't change your logo to white. 

To solve this, you can save your logo as a JPG image with a white background, or, apply a white line or light shadow around the letters/symbols in your logo.

Be mindful of your colour scheme

Give your emails a makeover with a dark-mode-friendly colour scheme. From your background and images to your font and call-to-action buttons, create a colour scheme with your brand colours and their dark equivalent to provide a seamless experience for both light mode and dark mode users.

Take a look at this email from DesignModo which would still look great in dark mode because of its colour scheme:

Avoid using really vibrant colours, or pure black (#000000) or pure white (#FFFFFF) for large paragraphs of text. These can actually lead to increased eye strain. It's a good idea to use light and dark shades of grey as these have better readability in dark mode.

Test before you send

As with all your email marketing campaigns, especially those designed for dark mode, it's essential to run plenty of tests.

This way, you can see how it will look in dark mode and light mode across different email clients.

You can do this by either  by sending test versions of your email to yourself and viewing them on different devices and email clients, or you can test within your email marketing tool. (Wired Plus provides a tool called Inbox Check, letting you preview your email on 70+ different email clients.)

Final thoughts

Dark mode isn't going anywhere, so now is the time to adapt your emails and show your subscribers that you cater for all preferences.

Designing for dark mode can feel overwhelming, but don't worry! With email marketing tools like Wired Plus, you can create your dark mode emails in a drag-and-drop editor. Want to know more? Book a demo.

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