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How to Get Dark Mode Design Right

Dark themes are everywhere these days. 

As human beings continue to spend more of their time interacting with technology, dark themes provide a more relaxing way to engage with the digital world. More often than not, these themes are easier on the eyes, more attractive, and perfect for the dedicated user

Throughout 2020, countless leading brands have debuted their own version of the dark theme. Google has a solution for your Drive, while Apple and Android have built dark theme performance right into their operating systems. 

If you haven’t learned how to make the most out of dark mode yet, then you could be missing out on an excellent opportunity to differentiate your design skills, and earn more clients going forward. 

Why Dark Mode?

Before we dive too deeply into the possibilities of creating your own dark theme, let’s examine what dark mode is, and why it’s so effective. 

Ultimately, dark themes are created to reduce the amount of luminance emitted by everything from your desktop and laptop, to your smartphone and smartwatch. Dark themes help to improve the visual ergonomics of design, by reducing eye strain, adjusting brightness to suit current lighting conditions, and more. Additionally, many dark mode offerings are also fantastic at conserving battery life. 

Here are some of the main benefits of adding dark themes to your design portfolio

  • Better user experience: A focus on user experience is one of the most important trends of the digital age. You need to be willing to deliver incredible experiences to everyone who visits your website if you want to stand out today. Dark mode reduces everything from eye strain, to battery power consumption. This helps to keep customers on a website for longer.
  • Innovation and cutting edge appeal: Most companies want to prove that they can stay on the cutting edge of their industry. The ability to offer an opt-in dark mode version of a website theme or appearance can help your clients to stand out from the crowd. As the environment becomes more mobile-focused, more companies will be looking for designers that can provide the best mobile experiences. 
  • Support for universal design: Dark mode isn’t just great for people who have light sensitivity at night. This solution could be more comfortable for visually-impaired users who would struggle with eye strain when visiting your websites otherwise. If you want your content to be more inclusive for a wider range of viewers, then learning how to design for dark mode is a good way to start.

Best Practices When Designing for Dark Mode

Designing for dark mode is easier than you’d think. Most of the time, it involves simply thinking about how you can replace some of the brighter, more overwhelming aspects of your site, with something deeper and darker. 

Here are some useful tips that will get you moving in the right direction. 

1. Experiment with Colors

A big issue for a lot of web designers when it comes to developing a dark mode solution is that they get too caught up with things like pure white text against pure black backgrounds. However, this high-contrast option can be a little much after a while. 

It’s often much easier to use a dark grey as your primary surface color, instead of a true black. Additionally, rather than using bright white, think about slightly off-white alternatives that will be warmer to the eye.

Experiment with surfaces and color combinations that are unlikely to cause too much eye strain. Dark grey foundations often offer a wider range of depth, too, because you can demonstrate shadows on grey. 

Additionally, when you are experimenting with colors, remember that saturated colors often vibrate painfully against very dark surfaces, making them harder to read. Desaturating your colors will help to reduce the contrast and make your websites more welcoming. 

Lighter tones in the 200-50 range will have better readability on dark themes. However, you can always experiment with your choices. Google Material Design recommends using a contrast level of around 15:8:1 between your background and text. 

2. Consider the Emotional Impact

Much of the effort involved with dark mode design is figuring out how certain colors work together. It’s easy to get carried away with stark contrasts, particularly when you’re used to working with a white background. However, you need to remember that you’re designing for a user that’s primarily looking for an easier and more subdued browsing experience.

While you’re working, remember to consider the emotional aspect of the design too. The emotion in colors can make or break a buyer’s journey in any environment. However, an often overlooked-aspect of color psychology, is that people perceive shades differently when they’re on a black background

For instance, think of the color green. On a light background, it conveys nature and even financial wealth. However, on a dark background, the same green could come across as something venomous, toxic, or even sickly. It’s important to think about the kind of impressions end users are going to get when they arrive on your site.

3. Give Users the Freedom to Choose

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when you begin designing for dark mode, is thinking that you should focus entirely on your dark themes, and nothing else. This lines you up for a problem if you interact with users who want the best of both worlds. If you’re designing for apps in particular, you’re going to need web pages that can switch naturally between light and dark themes. 

Learning how to implement both a dark mode and a light mode option into the desks you create will help you to reach a wider selection of customers. Remember, you’ll need to test the performance and impact of your designs in both themes, to check that they deliver the same kind of experience, no matter how your user chooses to browse. 

Although dark mode should offer a different experience to end-users, it still needs to feel as though they’re browsing on the same website. That means that you’re going to need to experiment with the most natural combination of light and dark mode options.

4. Remember the Basics

Remember, although the three tips above will help you to get on the right path for dark mode design, you’ll also need to consider the opportunities and limitations of the platforms that you’re designing for. The kind of dark mode experience you can deliver for Google Chrome websites is going to be very different to what you can create for something running on iOS.

Examining the documentation provided by the system that you’re designing for will help you to develop something with a close insight into what’s actually possible. 

Other top tips for dark mode design include:

  • Focus on your content: Make sure that your content stands out on the page, without being too overwhelming. 
  • Test your design: In both light and dark appearances, you need to make sure everything is working as it should be.
  • Adopt vibrancy for your interfaces: Vibrancy helps to improve the contrast between your background and foreground. 
  • Use semantic colors: Semantic colors adapt to the current appearance of a website automatically. Hard-coded color values that don’t adapt can seem more aggressive. 
  • Desktop tinting: Try experiment with things like transparency and filters to give your websites and apps a slightly warmer tint – ideal for late-night browsing
  • Icons: Use individual glyphs and icons for dark and light modes if necessary. 

Ready to Design for Dark Mode?

Preparing your web development and design portfolio for an era addicted to dark mode can be a complex experience. You need to think carefully about how people are going to browse through your websites and apps when they’re searching for something more subtle, and less visually overwhelming than the websites that we’re used to making. 

The most important thing to remember is that everything on your website or application should look just as beautifully tailor-made in dark mode as it does in light mode. Simply adding a dynamic black background when people want to switch settings in an app isn’t enough. You need to go in-depth with your designs and examine how different fonts, colors, and images work together.

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3 Essential Design Trends, October 2020

Design can make a statement. It evokes feeling and can encourage thought and conversation. That’s the common theme among the three trends in website design this month.

Each trend is rooted on the time and place where we live and includes elements that provoke thought. Kudos to these designers and design teams for jumpstarting conversations. Here’s what’s trending in design this month.

1. “Taking a Stance” Design

From social to environmental issues, design projects are echoing the sentiments of their audiences and organization in a way that take a stance on an issue.

Once taboo, this is becoming increasingly used as a technique for brands who are no longer worried about turning off a certain segment. The goal is to rally the core audience and people who feel the same way about an issue or cause.

There’s also a secondary thing happening here. Some designs aren’t really position based, but use imagery and language that resonates with a movement to associate with that feeling.

Never Heart uses “Join the Revolution” and a dark image with a heart to tug at your feelings. It can help create an association to a cause that you believe in without stating that cause directly. The design feels strong and inviting while making you feel like part of something.

Skye High uses “powerful” twice in the headline to convey a particular messages to women. The agency is looking to work with “powerful” women. It’s a timely statement and message that could resonate with a lot of business-women at various levels of their careers.

Discovered Wildfoods is a brand that is rooted in sustainability. The corporate model and responsibility of the brand shows through in the website. This type of design helps connect people with mutual feelings to the brand and products.

It’s refreshing to see more websites and brands embracing social causes and issues. It can be tricky for a number of reasons. But for some brands, it pays off.

2. Abstract Art Elements

If you are worried about a lack of images, or not sure how to portray images in an appropriate way due to the worldwide pandemic – groups or not, masked or not – abstract art elements can be the solution.

Widely used for startups and apps, more abstract design elements are everywhere. It’s an easy way to create strong visual interest without photography.

The most common use of abstract art elements is often in the form of geometric shapes with animation. This is something that almost anyone can understand and simple shapes and movement can be quite stunning when done well.

The good news is this aesthetic can work for almost any type of website. Try it for a redesign when you don’t have photography that feels appropriate in the current environment or if you want to create focus for content that drives website visitors to the words or scroll. This works with more abstract concepts when they are simple and help you move quickly from the visual to text.

Here’s how each of the examples handles abstract art elements:

Indicius uses bouncing circles that move toward text and down the screen to drive users to the headline and scroll action.

With Code uses a fun fuzzy circle with different animations to draw you in.

Appimized uses bright color and a monotone scheme with geometric shapes to sell its services.

3. Images That Make You Think

This might be the most visually interesting, and thought-provoking, website design trend we’ve seen in a while. These designs all feature images with a little something different or unusual that make you think.

There are a lot of different ways to do this – marry photographs and illustrations, create imaginary imagery, animations or effects, visual tricks that play on depth perception or create pseudo-3D effects.

The commonality is that the visual is so striking and unusual that website visitors stop and engage with the design. What do the “oddball” visuals mean? What message do they convey? How did they do that?

All of the questions could be associated with this different style of visual representation.

Bling uses a combination of a photo with illustrated animated elements to draw the eye. The yin and yang between reality and fantasy is quickly evident and makes you want to know more. (It doesn’t hurt that the animation uses dollars and lightning.)

Kibun is interesting because the photo choices create an optical illusion of depth. It matches the content of the design well because the website features artistic textile panels with an artistic design. The illusion is in the angles and coloring of photographs and their placements on the screen. The only downside of this design is that it loses the artistic panache on mobile because the images stack.

Oddball images can sell. We Are Mad stands out because it uses a contrived image, but doesn’t go oversized with it. The more subtle placement is ideal and arguably more attention-grabbing.

Conclusion

Website design can be a powerful thing, as these trends and examples show. Don’t discredit the power of choices in color, imagery, animation, and text when creating a digital experience. Design can mean a lot of different things depending on the audience as these examples show.

At the same time, these design trends are powerful and meaningful. They provide context into our world, our time, and our feelings. Don’t be afraid to experiment and make a statement with your design work. Just remember to keep in mind all potential impacts (positive and negative) before taking the project live.

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The Latest Research for Web Designers, September 2020

In today’s look at the latest research for web designers, we’re going to look at studies and reports from Payoneer, Robert Half, Hootsuite, and Contentsquare to see what they have to say about things like:

  • Current freelancer demand
  • Web designer earning potential
  • A change in ecommerce shopping trends
  • Unseen content rates

1. There’s Light At the End of the COVID-19 Tunnel for Freelancers

Payoneer’s The State of Freelancing During COVID-19 had to take a different approach to reporting on the freelancer workforce than in years passed.

Here’s why:

When 1000+ freelancers around the globe were asked how demand for their services changed during COVID-19, this was the response:

Less than 17% of freelancers experienced an increase in demand for their services and less than 23% saw demand remain the same.

An overwhelming majority of freelancers experienced a shrink in demand, with nearly 29% saying it slightly decreased while almost 32% said it greatly decreased.

However, the data collected wasn’t just assessed on a global scale. Payoneer also looked at freelancing demand trends in various parts of the world:

Notice the differences between Asia and Australia (who were hit with COVID-19 earlier) and North America and Europe (where the pandemic arrived a little later).

It appears as though Asian and Australian freelancers are, economically speaking, already starting to feel the effects of recovery from the pandemic with demand working in their favor.

So, if you’re feeling like there’s no end to the hardships you’ve faced during COVID-19, and were considering dropping your prices, hold on for just a little bit longer. Freelancers are starting to feel optimistic about demand for their services increasing. If you go devaluing yourself now, it’ll be hard to return to where you were before COVID-19 when things get back to normal.

2. Robert Half’s Salary Guide Breaks Down the Earning Potential for Web Designers

On a related note, let’s talk about demand from the employer’s point of view.

According to Robert Half’s 2020 Salary Guide for creative marketing professionals, there’s big demand for digital talent:

So, that’s number one. We know that almost 50% of hiring managers feel as though their digital teams are inadequately staffed. That’s good news for web designers.

However, these same managers complain about creative marketing professionals’ lack of up-to-date skills as the biggest barrier to hiring or retaining them. Although the report doesn’t say so, I’m going to assume this refers both to employees as well as contractors.

This should be a no-brainer. By keeping up with the latest web design trends and techniques, you can make top-dollar for your services — and hold onto those valuable client relationships for a long time.

According to the report, this is how much you stand to earn working in web design (in the U.S.) today:

If you’re eyeballing those salaries in the 95th percentile, then you know what you need to do. Hiring managers have spoken up about what’s holding them back from hiring.

For those of you who feel as though you’ve gone as far as you can as a web designer, it might be worth exploring a new specialty. Like one of the following:

As you can see, designers in the UI, UX, and interactive space (along with web developers) have the opportunity to make more money, even earlier on in their careers. You may also find that more job opportunities are available as you move into these niches (because of less competition), which might cut down on any demand issues you’ve been experiencing because of COVID-19.

3. Hootsuite’s Digital 2020 Report Reveals an Interesting Trend in Ecommerce

Hootsuite’s Digital 2020 report is always a great resource for learning about social media marketing trends. That said, that’s not why I read it.

It’s for hidden gems like these:

It’s no surprise that we’re seeing changes in retail and ecommerce during COVID-19. What is a surprise, however, is how consumers’ online shopping habits have changed.

Here’s what we’re seeing when we compare 2020 ecommerce data with the pre-COVID benchmarks:

Site visits are 1.7% lower than expected. That would make sense considering how budget-conscious consumers are right now. It likely keeps them from going on unnecessary shopping sprees.

Session durations are 3.3% lower. This could be related to fewer site visits. It might also indicate greater consumer confidence. If they come to a website with a plan for what they need to buy, they’re going to take a straight line to conversion instead of spending time window shopping that prolongs their session.

The number of transactions is 19.1% higher and the conversion rate is 21.6% higher. Considering shoppers aren’t spending as much time with ecommerce websites, this point suggests that there’s a massive shift happening from in-store shopping to online shopping.

If that’s the case (even if consumers are currently spending less money), that means web designers need to set their sights on the ecommerce space. With the holiday shopping season expected to start sooner rather than later this year, now is the time to get in there and make sure these sites provide as streamlined an experience as possible.

4. Contentsquare Studies the Unseen Content Rates By Industry

Contentsquare analyzed more than 7 billion user sessions globally to create the 2020 Digital Experience Benchmarks report.

There’s some interesting data in here about website traffic and conversion trends, but what I find the most valuable is the breakdown by industry.

It was this chart, in particular, that really caught my eye:

According to Contentsquare’s data, between 60% and 75% of a website’s content is unseen. Some industries fare better than others, like home supplies and luxury retailer websites, but the numbers still aren’t flattering.

For example, what does it mean when consumers miss 75% of a financial service provider’s content?

Does this mean that the financial advisory content — which I’m assuming comprises the bulk of the pages on the site — is useless or irrelevant? Or perhaps it’s an issue of discoverability since blog content and other resources often take a backseat to service and product promotion?

What about ecommerce brands in the apparel or beauty space?

If two-thirds of their pages are unseen, does that mean their websites are overrun with obsolete inventory? Or, again, is it an issue of navigability and discoverability around the store?

As a web designer, I’d suggest performing your own unseen content analysis on the websites you’ve built. If over 60% of your pages never get any views, you’re going to have to decide what to do with them:

Option 1: Fix the navigation or search function so people can actually find these unseen pages.

Option 2: Remove them from the site and make room for content your visitors actually find valuable.

Wrap-Up

As you encounter research and reports online — whether it’s written specifically for web designers or other creative professionals — spend some time looking for hidden gems.

As you can see above, there’s a ton of relevant research for web designers out there, even if it’s hiding behind the mask of a larger issue or matter. And it’s this data that will help you get a leg up on the competition since it’ll get you thinking about your business and your approach to design in different ways.

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Source de l’article sur Webdesignerdepot

3 Essential Design Trends, July 2020

The biggest trend we’re talking about this month started at WWDC as Apple provided a glimpse of what’s coming next for their operating systems. This time around there’s a distinct design element. Did you catch it?

Here’s what’s trending in design this month.

1. Text Highlights and Underlines

There’s always been an unwritten rule in website design that text uses more plain styles. Bold is acceptable, italics are OK from time to time, but underlining is seldom used.

This design trend bucks that concept with text elements that use highlighter or underline elements to emphasize key words. And it works rather nicely.

What it takes to make this work is plenty of contrast and a design style that fits with underline or highlighted elements.

This design trend works thanks to clear intention. The words are obviously important to the overall meaning of the design or what visitors should take away from the content.

Pepper It uses a nifty underline that the letters seem to rest inside of to highlight a key phrase. The shape and color also mimic that of the larger button below, helping the eyes move from one element to the next. It’s an effective use of an underline (or maybe you could call it a highlight) effect in conjunction with brand colors.

Zappos Kids uses a fun highlight in a colorful scheme to highlight a key text element. It almost looks like a button and helps website visitors understand that the entire hero image area is clickable. The highlight serves to make the text more readable and the interactive element more functional.

Zeus Jones uses a variety of text treatments on the homepage, but arguable the underline is most noticeable, likely because it is the most unfamiliar in the context of website design.

2. Distinct Geometry

Geometric shapes in website design have popped up as trending elements in a variety of forms. This iteration is pretty simple: Use of distinct geometry as part of the overall aesthetic.

Geometry might pair with illustrations, photos, text, or in the background or foreground. What’s great about shapes is that they are versatile and work with a lot of other design patterns.

What can be the most challenging about shapes and design is that distinct geometry requires some space and thought. Just tossing a few triangles or rectangles in a design without reason can look rather strange.

So how can you add geometric shapes to a design so that they look intentional? These examples do it well (and in three different ways).

Rui Ma uses square and rectangular containers in a modular grid with portfolio projects inside each. This is one of the most common and applicable uses of geometry – as a container element. What makes it stand out is the circle, smiley wheel (also a geometric shape) that never leaves the center of the screen. The black background for the grid is also a nice contrast element for content blocks.

Thompson Stenning uses shapes in the background and with illustrations to create a stunning homepage visual. It’s big and bold and has just enough going on that you want to look at it and figure out the scene. Maybe what’s most intriguing about the visual concept is that it uses lots of geometric shapes – rectangles, squares, triangles, ad circles – whereas most projects pick one shape to focus on.

Romain Penchenat uses three-dimensional style angles to draw you into the portfolio website. They use a simple animation that “floats” on the homepage and follows the scroll with other geometric elements.

3. Shadow and Gradient Icons

Did you notice all the gradients and subtle shadows in icons in the images previewing iOS 14 or were you just looking at other changes (such as widgets) on the iPhone screen?

We’ve been seeing more designers incorporating more shadows and depth into icons for a while, but this move by a major player in design will push it to the forefront fast. Each of the icons moves from a flat style to one with a background gradient color as well as more shadows within icon elements for depth.

Don’t worry, the design still looks very much like Apple, but is a little more reminiscent of the skeuomorphism style icons from earlier versions of iOS.

It’s nice that the color and shadow elements are contained within each icon. This creates more visual interest and depth for each element without getting cluttered or junky. The gradients are also super simple, using a darker version of the main color in a monotone element.

It’s an iconography style that others are already using. DG Studio has a collection of icons on its homepage with subtle gradients and shadowing in the designs. Again, what’s nice about this trend is that it adds depth to visuals without tricks that get in the way of visual comprehension.

Guillaume Gouessan uses gradients in image icons in much the same way as the previous examples but with a little more color variation. Here, you can see what the gradient looks like when using a color change that’s not super drastic, but more dramatic than a monotone option. You can find some use of the more monotone gradient on his site below the scroll in the large desk image. (It’s definitely worth a few clicks to check it out.)

Love it or hate it, gradients and shadows seem to be here to stay for a while.

Conclusion

How often do you find yourself looking to major brands and companies for design inspiration? While a lot of web design trends start as experiments with smaller sites, the big players can really shape what gets popular (or not).

The example of Apple moving to icons with more shadows and gradients is a prime example. We’ve been seeing more of these elements creeping in for a while, but this style is about to get very big again.

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