Dark Mode for Emails_ What It Is & How to Optimize Emails

Dark mode could be screwing up your emails – here’s how to fix it

5 min read

You know that feeling when you’ve been staring at a screen for so long that the adorable kittens you’re watching on YouTube start to look a little blurry? Well, that’s called eye strain, and there’s a new solution for that.

It’s called dark mode.

What is dark mode?

It provides a darker colour palette for low-light or nighttime environments. It’s a reversed colour scheme that many users prefer because:

  • It minimises eye strain, especially in low-light situations.
  • It saves battery by reducing screen brightness.
  • It makes the content easier to read for some users. 
  • They just like it better. Plain and simple. 

There’s no denying that dark mode is taking over the inbox, bringing up a new challenge for marketers: making sure your emails don’t look like you just picked up a computer for the first time.

Why you should care

Dark mode is perfect for people whose eyes are sensitive or those who work during the night- i.e. a ton of your readers. Put simply, you need to accept that many of your readers will be using this feature, whether you like it or not. 

Let’s take a look at how dark mode can totally transform an email’s appearance (and how this could turn your email from looking professional to looking like a toddler just got hold of mum’s computer.)

Normal view on Outlook:

Dark mode view on Outlook:

Source: Email on Acid

As you can see, the text colour changes completely and images with a white background look out of place on the black email background.

Top 4 tips for designing emails for dark mode

1. Add strokes to logos and icons

Because anything with the colour black will disappear on a black background, add a white stroke onto black fonts on images and icons.

2. Always test your design before you send

Make sure you’ve tested your email in both light and dark mode before hitting that irreversible “send” button.

Learn more about A/B testing: view our previous blog

3. Use transparent images

A transparent background will make the image blend more seamlessly and avoid the awkward white-box-on-a-black-background situation.

4. Selectively use graphical text

Putting your text into images can counteract the effects, but you shouldn’t necessarily create all-image emails. This could lead to deliverability problems and doesn’t look good if your images are blocked. If you are using graphical text for a small portion of your email, however, make sure to use alt text to help with image deliverability and blocking.

The bottom line is this:

You need to respect your readers’ preferences when it comes to dark mode. There are so many reasons why dark mode can benefit your reader, so it’s up to you as the marketer to adapt to their preferences if you want your emails to look as good adorable kittens on YouTube (if that’s even possible).

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