The Dark – and Light – Side of Dark Mode



Dark Mode, a new accessibility setting that allows users to flip the interface’s color display so that the background is dark, and font is light, can potentially cause a big headache for email marketers. It certainly might impact how your emails are displayed which could affect your results.


Dark Mode is a functionality in major internet service providers including Outlook.com, Apple Mail, Office 2019, and others. Perhaps more importantly, it is now available on the newly released iOS 13 and with approximately 27% of all emails read on an iPhone, it’s in every email marketers’ best interest to understand how they can best work with the functionality’s color-changing algorithm.


While test emails aren’t really affected too significantly in dark mode (it just reverses the copy and background), HTML emails can be a bit more complicated. Dark Mode targets HTML attributes and CSS properties, so it’s able to change your emails accordingly without permission.

The most taxing part of Dark Mode from a marketer’s perspective is adapting an email’s design to the new setting. Fortunately, Dark Mode on iPhone does not impact HTML emails by default, but all backgrounds will be rendered in white. That can be jarring for a Dark Mode user seeing your bright email, so it can influence your audience’s reading experience.


There is a way to honor your users Dark Mode preferences, but it’s essential that you check with whomever is doing your HTML coding to ensure the code takes Dark Mode users into consideration. Using the correct HTML media query will allow you to specifically target emails that are set to Dark Mode. Using this media query, you can set custom styles that only apply when your email is opened in a client’s Dark Mode.


While Dark Mode may be more of a challenge for email marketing template design, the setting can help boost some users’ experiences significantly. Dark Mode is preferred by some users with light sensitivity, those who work or spend time in low-light environments, and those who monitor blue light intake and eye strain. By embracing Dark Mode and its challenges, email marketers can provide their subscribers the customized user experience they desire.

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