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Things to Consider when Using Dark Color Schemes in Web Design

Things to Consider when Using Dark Color Schemes in Web Design main article image
Posted on July 4, 2017 by Charles Jackson

Color is an extremely important element of Web design yet one that is often overlooked by beginning designers. Different colors suit different themes and niches while evoking certain emotions and reactions in different people. Dark color schemes are very popular, but they are not for everyone. While fans of dark color schemes in websites and user interfaces often describe them as elegant, sleek and stylish, many others prefer lighter color schemes since they are usually less strenuous on the eyes. Although you can never expect to please everyone, there are some dos and don’ts of dark color schemes which designers should pay attention to if they want to attract a wider audience.

Use Plenty of White

As a background color, black and other dark colors are great for emphasizing white text on the screen. A black background can be too heavy if there is an excess of other dark colors used on the site however. The bulk of the text content when written on a black background should usually be white, since it is generally more comfortable for most people to read. Other page elements such as titles and menus may look better in different colors, so long as darker colors are not used excessively.

Those who do not like dark color schemes, particularly when it comes to background colors, usually complain about lack of readability and eyestrain. When you have dark text on a light background, spacing between lines is not so important but with darker backgrounds, double spacing makes the text much more comfortable to read for most people. Likewise, larger font faces and clear typography also look better and lend to a more pleasant user experience.

Use Suitable Typography

Typography in Web design has come a long way from the days when designers were restricted to using the few standard fonts that were viewable across multiple platforms. Today, designers have a much wider range of fonts at their disposal. When it comes to dark color schemes, there is a great emphasis on using suitable typography. For page elements such as titles and other areas of larger, emphasized text, serif fonts look more elegant and can greatly complement the elegance and style potentially afforded by a dark color scheme. For the bulk of the text, however, sans-serif fonts are much easier on the eye and look better.

Use Other colors Carefully

When you are using a dark color scheme, you should be careful with the use of lighter colors (except for white) as contrasts can be too sharp and lead to eyestrain and generally uncomfortable viewing. Minimal color schemes usually work best for dark designs. Keep things simple and use no more than two or three additional colors. Of course, there are exceptions and these are guidelines rather than set-in-stone rules, but don’t forget that a site with a black background already has plenty of depth and having a mishmash of bright colors on top of it can look terrible.

Suitable Types of Websites for Dark color Schemes

Dark color schemes can work very well with certain types of site, but they are certainly not suitable for many others. Dark designs give impressions of creativity, elegance and style. Having a dark background texture is great for sites which wish to convey a grungy, alternative or artistic impression. For certain types of portfolios, a fairly minimalistic style using solid dark colors can look great. In websites seeking to have a more dramatic-looking theme, dark backgrounds are ideal for enhancing lighting effects on the page.

Larger websites and those which target a more general audience should generally stay away from dark designs. If you are not quite sure whether or not a dark design is suitable or not, then you can always provide the option of a style switcher, allowing your visitors to easily switch between two or more color schemes. This tends to be a lot of extra work for little return, however.

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