Is a light or dark UI better?

almost 7 years ago from , Managing Director

We're working on a new light UI mode for Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo -https://affinity.serif.com/blog/affinity-1-6-versions-to-include-light-ui-mode/.

Interested to know whether you prefer to work in an app with a dark or a light UI, and why?


  • Pablo StanleyPablo Stanley, almost 7 years ago

    Why not both?

    17 points
  • Louielyn Mata, almost 7 years ago

    Since some design work would require a huge amount of time staring at the screen, I would prefer the darker version to ease the stress on the eyes. I also think that brightly lit screen tends to strain the eyes more especially if you're working in a dark room, which some people love.

    Either way, the light UI is a nice feature to accommodate each and everyone's preference. Nice work!

    16 points
  • Gonçalo MoraisGonçalo Morais, almost 7 years ago

    Since I work in a sunny office, I favour lighter UIs.

    8 points
  • Lucian .esLucian .es, almost 7 years ago

    It really depends on personal preferences and the type of the app. Also depends on when you are using the tool and the content it has (photo, text, audio...)

    For exemple, I wouldn't see Spotify with a Light UI and I would definitely like the design tool I currently use to have a dark interface. Recently I've started to add a locked dark blue grey rectangle behind the artboards.

    For me, in this particular case, I would go with the Dark but definitely would alternate between the 2 options depending if I work at the office or at home (long nights in my home office).


    5 points
  • Veronika Hradilová, almost 7 years ago

    Personally I prefer lighter UI because of the purity and better legibility. But in fact it really depends on the type of app. Sometimes I really enjoy dark UI because I simply love black :)

    4 points
  • Johan Ronsse, almost 7 years ago

    My 2 cents - it really depends on the situation.

    If you have a lot of glare on your screen light UIs are better to see what you are doing.

    If you want to focus on purely visual content (e.g. photos, videos, 3D) dark UIs are better because they bring the focus to the visuals.

    For apps with a lot of reading (e.g. Wordpress) light UIs are better because I find that they are easier on the eyes.

    1 point
  • Mattan IngramMattan Ingram, almost 7 years ago

    I was actually thinking about this the other day, is there a way to access a device's ambient light sensor from a website? I know you can access the gyroscope on phones, so there probably is. Time to do some research!

    If you can you could have the UI of a web app change automatically depending on light level where you are working.

    1 point
    • Kyle DeckerKyle Decker, almost 7 years ago

      The music app Ecoute has this feature and it works quite well :)

      1 point
    • Pablo StanleyPablo Stanley, almost 7 years ago

      Slightly related plugin, Flux. It makes the color of your computer's display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day.

      1 point
      • Josh Miller, almost 7 years ago

        This doesn't seem super helpful for a design tool

        0 points
        • perfume lperfume l, almost 7 years ago

          I think it one of the most helpful software for people staring at the screen all day that ever created. Evidently that most modern OS (Windows 10, macOS, Android, iOS) have this kind of features built in(or planned).

          I can't work comfortable with default monitor with glaring blue light anymore. Yes, it make the color somewhat changed, and that's crucial for designer. But do I have to see the correct color all the time? Maybe not. I just turn it off when needed to check the color and switch back to a little warmer one. :)

          0 points
    • Lukas Zgraggen, almost 7 years ago

      It's a working draft: https://w3c.github.io/ambient-light/

      3 points
  • Dapo OlaopaDapo Olaopa, almost 7 years ago

    I like both, and since most of the apps I use are light, it would match with them. Seeing the screenshots via your link, it looks great. Making it an option is a good move. Kudos.

    1 point
  • Alim MaasogluAlim Maasoglu, almost 7 years ago

    Depends on the type of the application and what purpose the application has. But regarding Affinity Designer I would really love a light UI.

    1 point
  • Adam Wilson, almost 7 years ago

    Which is better really depends on the function and content of the app. I prefer dark Ui for media heavy or editing software (like Affinity Designer) where the content is the star and the associated ui or tools are really only supplementary to that media. I reserve light interfaces for text or navigation heavy experiences where the focus is on scanning or consuming text.

    There are definitely arguments to be made based on average user session time as well. Longer sessions definitely skew in favour of darker interfaces (or at least not straight white) as they're easier on the eyes long-term.

    0 points
  • Adam Hopwood, almost 7 years ago

    I use different shades of dark UI for different creative suite applications to easily distinguish between them!

    0 points
  • Yohan Baillet, almost 7 years ago

    Create a dark UI that automatically switch on after 7pm : Night mode activated. :)

    0 points
  • alexey pushkarev, almost 7 years ago

    The choice between light and dark depends on environment (light sources, their intensity, reflective surfaces in room) and personal choice or habits. Some people can't stand dark due to 'it strains their eyes'. I can't stand light in the same reason, lol.

    So it would be better to inplement both. I can't wait a day when every major software maker uses this approach. Hate them all for now. :)

    0 points
  • Ronan Flynn-CurranRonan Flynn-Curran, almost 7 years ago


    0 points
  • Sacha GreifSacha Greif, almost 7 years ago

    I don't really care whether it's light or dark, but can we have larger UI elements please?

    0 points
  • Patrick McFarling, almost 7 years ago

    Depending on the situation. Most of the time I prefer dark UI

    0 points
  • Ollie BarkerOllie Barker, almost 7 years ago

    Unlike everyone in my office I prefer lighter UIs. Simply put I just find dark UIs hard to read. With light text on a dark background I find I have to scan the text multiple times to realise what it says.

    0 points
  • Jim RenaudJim Renaud, almost 7 years ago

    There is no right answer on which is better because you provided no context. It depends on what the project is. I'd imagine a video app for instance would benefit from a darker UI to not distract from the content. I'd imagine an online newspaper would be better served with light based on accessibility and ease to read. Those are just two classification examples, but we have not talked about brand, mood, and the experience you want to evoke.

    0 points
  • Nicole Pizarro, almost 7 years ago

    I often work in the evening and I find that dark UI is more versatile (good for day or evening). It allows whatever I am working on to be the focal point versus the UI of my tool.

    0 points
  • Danylo Hovzan, almost 7 years ago

    i'm kinda obsessed with dark UIs. but that's just me. i'm often surprised how people don't care about the way their software looks and feels - even some demanding nitpicky folks i know.

    in any case, your light UI looks good. good job!)

    0 points
  • Greg Warner, almost 7 years ago

    A scale of light and dark options is nice depending on environment, but personally I almost always favor dark UIs. I'm surprised to hear some folks say they find a light UI better to put the focus on their work, because for me the opposite is true. Generally, my screen is the brightest thing in my environment. I keep a dark gray photo for a background on my desktop, and my monitor and MB bezel are both black. So then if my design is at all lighter than its surroundings, with a dark UI it clearly stands out as the point of emphasis without distraction. Putting a light UI inside of a dark monitor generally creates a strange light inner rectangle surrounding my work, with menus and toolbars the brightest and most distracting element. This is why I find Sketch frustrating. But, when working on light-toned work or when working under different lighting (or for eye issues), I can see a light UI being helpful for some.

    0 points
  • Ryan Hicks, almost 7 years ago

    I prefer a happy medium, but usually on the darker side more so than the light. Not completely dark, but about 70% or so.

    0 points
  • Nathan NNathan N, almost 7 years ago

    I would like the option for both. After years of using the light UI in Photoshop I found myself liking the dark UI when it was released. Being able to switch between both is good for working from multiple rooms with different lighting (on a laptop for example).

    0 points
  • Markus BerghMarkus Bergh, almost 7 years ago

    I would like the option to switch, because it could also be better to work with a dark UI in the evenings vs working with a light one during daylight hours.

    0 points
  • Florian GrauFlorian Grau, almost 7 years ago

    I prefer light UIs. :)

    0 points
  • Tikhon BelouskoTikhon Belousko, almost 7 years ago

    Have to say that same colored icons don't work really well in Light UI, because of that AD looks a bit Gimpish. I would consider tune the color of the icon in some parts and make it brighter and better aligned with latest macOS guidelines. Thanks for adding Light UI, by the way!

    0 points
  • John PJohn P, almost 7 years ago

    There isn't really a right answer to this with pro software, thats why most has both options.

    People might bring up highly colourful work looks better against dark apps but work doesn't really exist in a black vacuum

    0 points