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Dark Mode UI 
Best Practices

October 28, 2021 - Reading time: 10 minutes

Eight tips for designing dark mode UI.

What exactly is a dark theme/mode first?

A dark mode is a night-friendly color theme that mainly focuses on using dimed/grey colors for surface and UI elements. Darker colors reflect less light while still providing a great reading experience. All thanks to the high contrast between sharp elements and subtle surfaces.

As a design pattern, a dark mode is usually living across the user interface as a toggle. The dark mode is designed to be supplemental to the system's default (or light) theme.

Thanks to extra vibrancy, the dark mode has become quite popular, making foreground content stand out against the shaded backgrounds. But besides being fancy, what are the perks?

Dark mode perks

Dark theme is a good marketing move for making your UI stand out among similar brands or products. The deep, heavy backgrounds can become a perfect addition to your brand visuals.

Dark mode as a feature can help reduce eye strain when operating your product. Especially if your product is heavy with text, a dark mode can help enhance your user's retention and focus.

Dark mode can potentially save your phone energy. It's proven that dark mode consumes six times less power on your screen by emitting less light and, as a result, can prolong your app lifespan and usage time.

Please note that energy consumption mostly depends on your phone type and not the colors. So if you want to measure dark mode battery-saving efficiency -- review the developer's guidelines for specific phone types and screens.

The dark mode experts say it is healthier to read against dark surfaces, while other studies arrive at the opposite conclusion. But in my opinion, the dark mode is just a trend that looks sleek and, in theory, can make your brand more comforting.

So without further ado, here are the best practices to help build your dark mode UI.

Plan your color use

Avoid or limit white on pure black colors. You can use pure black (#000) as a background for dark mode, but make sure you dim your text slightly. Just enough not to cause eyes to bleed from cutting-edge contrast.

Pure white makes our eyes need to absorb more light. When this happens, fonts can bleed with the background and cause the text to blur, especially on older monitor models.

Plan your color use — Dark Mode UI Tip

Brand your dark color

To make your dark mode more unique, use a much darker version of your primary brand color as the surface.

Combine with colored fonts to make it look even more special. ✨

Combining your surface color with colored fonts is an excellent choice to create a branded dark mode experience. Using just a gradation of black and white is also okay. Just be sure to make your text easy to read instead of being fancy for no reason.

Brand your dark color — Dark Mode UI Tip

Reduce color saturation

Avoid fully saturated colors in dark mode.

High saturation has a visual "shaking" effect when viewed on darker surfaces. Instead, use low saturation or slightly muted versions of your primary colors for best performance.

Reduce color saturation — UI tip

Communicate depth

Use a scale of lighter colors to translate the elevation. Avoid using shadows in dark mode. Instead, use border property to emit depth levels for UI elements. Distant elements should still have lower elevation compared to the closer elements. 

Avoid using shadows in dark mode. To better communicate depth -- make sure the objects closer to the user are brighter. This will help to build a better visual hierarchy.

Communicate depth in dark mode ui

Ensure your dark mode contrast

Dark mode, just as the light should meet the minimum required WCAG standards to ensure all text is legible with enough contrast. You can use plugins to check your contrast design right in place.

Here are our favorite tools to help you double-check the contrast ratio without leaving the tool of your choice:

  • Stark (Figma, Sketch, and XD plugin).
  • Contrast (Figma plugin).
  • A11y (Figma plugin).

Ensure your dark mode contrast

Design light mode first

While bringing your designs from light to dark mode, keep all the visual cues in place. Don't ignore or remove some colors for the sake of a dark theme not to confuse users.

Instead, prepare a color pallet that focuses on inverting existing colors without UI losing efficiency. 

There are plenty of plugins that can help you with this. Here are my favorites:

Design light mode first

Use base colors to design dark mode

To make it predictable turning your light-themed UI to the dark side. Use a set of base or "neutral" colors with the same transparency values from the very start of your project.

A set of transparent colors can ease your life a lot. Instead of constantly choosing different shades of gray, you can use a set of transparent colors to convert your designs to dark mode predictably.

Use base colors to design dark mode

Don't overuse dark mode

It's a good idea to use dark mode for most things. Yet using a bright, striking background also can do a great job in conveying your design. Dark mode can be perfect for helping focus on a task, but nothing beats the final flash at 2:00 am when surfing eBay or amazon.

The light mode is great for catching your attention. It's popping up, waking up the user, and instantly transitioning his attention to one of the focal points, like a call-to-action headline, button, or form.

Tip: If you are making a product for Mac/Windows uses. It's good to adapt your product theme to sync with the user's current theme automatically. This can help users to feel at home, making a great first impression.

Don't overuse dark mode

Conclusion

Follow the listed tips when planning the dark mode for your digital product.

Remember, there should be a strong reason behind implementing it into an existing and perfectly working product. Consider the content, context of use, and the device on which the design will appear.

But no matter what. The dark mode can benefit your product, especially when using your phone at night, saving battery, or viewing memes in a dark atmosphere.

Useful resources

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How to Design Striking CTA

September 21, 2021 - Reading time: 5 minutes

Actionable do’s and don’ts to help improve your call to action.

First of all, what is a CTA Button? Call-to-action (CTA) are the buttons that are meant to guide users towards your goal conversion. It’s a fundamental part of your interface that users need to press to make the action you want them to take.

CTA buttons can vary in style and size depending on your goal. Some common examples of call-to-action buttons are:

  • Add to cart button
  • Sign in/Register button
  • Download button

All CTA buttons have a goal: to get your app or page visitor to click and convert.

So here are my set of tips to help you create better call-to-actions and increase your design conversion rate.

Use valuable and actionable copy

Don’t use “submit” or “send” on your form buttons. Instead, provide a copy that speaks the same language as the user does.

Instantly show users what they will achieve by pressing your button.

Use valuable copy

Make your CTA’s dead obvious

Use bold, highly contrasting colors for your CTA’s.

Don’t try to blend/mix your primary converting buttons alongside other UI elements or backgrounds.

Make your CTA's dead obvious

Ensure your CTA’s have a large tap zone

Don’t make your conversion buttons too small. Do make them prominent and bold.

When working on a web project, it’s a must to use a set of buttons for different resolution breakpoints.

Ensure your CTA's have a large tap zone

Don’t be afraid to add some spice

Don’t make your buttons look boring. Instead, use both style and interaction to build the urge to smash that pretty & fun thing.

Don't be afraid to add some spice

Make your vocabulary dead clear

Ensure your CTA’s vocabulary is clear and actionable.

User attention is precious, so use the momentum to quickly get to the main point with a short but striking copy.

Make your vocabulary dead clear

Therefore, it’s crucial to be open to longer text variations when designing your buttons. Just make sure the action behind the text is 100% predictable.

Add keywords to CTA’s

Images that act as buttons, like product cards or galleries, must have “alt” tags.

The attached information helps to rank your page higher and provides helpful context to people with visual disabilities.

Make sure that all clickable elements have <alt> tags included.

Add keywords to CTA's

Use Me instead of You

Based on the research by Unbounce, a first-person copy like “I” and “my” is more effective than using “you” and “your,” resulting in higher conversion.

Since the primary driver for buying and clicking things our own emotions. Using the first-person pronouns in your CTA’s increases emotional impact by associating a personal benefit with action.

Based on my experience, using this trick and a friendlier tone results in a better response from visitors. ❤

Use Me instead of You

Use descriptive buttons

Add descriptions to promote the idea of pressing your button.

Put extra proof, rating, or your product best feature to create anticipation towards clicking and achieving something.

Use descriptive buttons

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That’s all. Thanks for the read! 🙌

Use these tips and your surveillance to come with new cool buttons ideas.

To help you quickly design & test your CTA, you can use tools like buttonoptimizer.com.

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UI Images 
Best Practices

September 2, 2021 - Reading time: 172 minutes

10 best practices to help you master images in UI design.

Imagery is one of the most effective tools to grab the reader's attention.

Images are used for setting up the brand's voice and building the presence. A well-placed photo can tell about your business much more than hundreds of words on your landing page.

But searching and fitting images into your designs can be really challenging. Besides finding the right photo, you'll need to properly align it with other interface elements and your business goals.

So here are my best practices to keep in mind while working with interface images.

Be extremely picky when choosing photos

A bad photo can instantly ruin your design, even if the rest of the work is perfect.

When choosing photos, use only relevant, professional, and high-quality photos. Thanks to the internet, we have tons of resources and tools to provide us, both paid stock photos and royalty-free content.

Here is a handy list of resources to help you find the right photo right within your fingertips:

Ensure text has enough contrast

Bright and colorful photos can make text unreadable. When placing text above your images, make sure to emphasize the copy by adjusting image contrast or adding a darker color overlay.

Ensure text has enough contrast

Make images stand out

With multiple images on a screen, make some to lead the pack.

Use images to articulate the importance of your layout elements. Attract users to certain areas or CTA by employing bolder/bigger images.

Make images stand out

Add dynamic to the layout

When designing a large gallery, especially on mobile screens. Employ multiple columns and image sizes to make scrolling more fun and interactive.

Add dynamics to galleries layout

Use text wrapping smartly

Avoid nesting images into paragraphs.

When an image interrupts the text, it causes the reader to make unnecessary eye jumps from side to side of your page. Avoid interrupting the reading flow. Align images inside a paragraph to the top or right.

Use text wrapping smartly

Separate text and images into columns

Instead of wrapping text, sometimes it's a good idea to split the view into separate columns. Also, this duo column layout is a good way to demo vertical photos.

Separate text and images into columns

Put images outside the layout

Put images and multi-image galleries outside the grid.

Use this trick to employ a more immersive feel for your page or article. Placing full-size photos also make a clear visual pause for your readers.

Put images outside the layout

Use captions for standalone images

When an image is placed without a proper caption, it makes no sense, and the overall UI accessibility suffers. Always provide <alt> tags and a proper description of images. Google ranks such behavior higher.

Use captions for standalone images

Separate visually heavy blocks

Heavy vertical blocks can blend. Consider adding a separator <hr> tag between such elements.

Separate visually heavy blocks

Use pagination to showcase multiple images

Consider employing mobile-friendly horizontal pagination to let users see your product or service with a swipe gesture. People love to swipe.

Use pagination to showcase multiple images

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