Should Your Site Offer Dark Mode?

Should Your Site Offer Dark Mode

A growing number of websites have begun to offer dark mode, basically a dark theme. Dark mode has a combination of blacks, dark grey, and dark blue. Most dark modes have a black background with white font. The idea behind dark mode is to make it easier on the eyes at night. You may even use it yourself on your smartphone or computer. The question is, will the dark mode improve user experience (UX) and will it help to improve your website’s search engine optimization? Here are the pros and cons of offering dark mode on your website.

The Pros of Using Dark Mode


While Google has stated that it does not (at this time) have its crawlers detect smart mode as part of their search return page rankings (SERP), it does not mean that dark mode can’t benefit your SEO. Dark mode is popular, if not it would not currently be offered on every mobile device and OS. So what does that mean? It means by offering dark mode; you are giving visitors to your site an option that they may want; you are in fact improving their experience.  Improved user experience has been shown to mean lower bounce rates and return visits; both of which will be noticed by search engine crawlers.

User Health

While there is no conclusive medical evidence that shows dark mode can reduce eye strain or help you sleep better at night, there are a number of medical professionals who support the theories. All you need to do is Google benefits of dark mode to see a plethora of medical opinions on the subject. 

Less eyestrain means fewer headaches triggered by tired and sore eyes. Who doesn’t want fewer headaches? It could also mean better sleep. The light that we are exposed to from a computer screen may hamper the secretion of melatonin, which is a hormone needed for sleep. If you doubt melatonin’s impact on sleep, you only have to look at the sale of supplements containing the hormone and the number of studies that have proven the impact melatonin has on sleep.

So, aside from any impact that dark mode may have on return traffic to your website if the studies showing its benefits are to be believed, it is the right thing to do.

The Cons of Using Dark Mode

While many laud the reduction of eye strain by dark mode, a number of separate studies conducted between 2013 and 2016 show that the opposite to be true.  The studies showed that not only did dark mode increase eye strain, but it also made people less accurate with what they read.

Another suspected issue with dark mode is connected to its lack of light. Studies in places such as Finland, Norway, and Alaska have shown that prolonged periods with a lack of exposure to light can bring on depression. Some medical professionals worry that dark mode will deprive users of light they may need, especially if they work most of the day indoors and have little exposure to natural light.

So, Should You Use Dark Mode?

There is enough evidence that using dark mode can improve UX that it makes sense to use it from strictly a marketing standpoint. As far as user health issues, there are many more studies supporting dark mode’s health benefits than showing its detrimental effects. Should you use dark mode? The preponderance of evidence says that you should. If you don’t have any experience with web design and don’t have anyone on staff who can add dark mode to your site, hire a reputable and experienced web design agency to do it for you.

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About the Author

Though his chief ambition is to one day control the entire Internet, Jim busies himself in the meantime running our little web development and marketing agency. He's a certified super nerd who ranks coding in old, outdated languages and watching Star Trek reruns just a bit too high on his list of fun things to do. Outside of work, Jim enjoys Hockey (Tampa Bay Lighning, to be specific), more genres of music than most people realize exist, riding his Harley (he calls it "two wheel therapy") and exploring the world through travel.