What are the negative and positive aspects of dark color scheme?
I am using Light-on-dark color scheme (dark background with light text) in my application.
My question is, what are the negative and positive aspects of this color scheme and why this color scheme is not widely used?
Well, when you're doing paper prototyping, all-black backgrounds take a lot more ink...
@MikeNereson Granted, this is for LCD monitors, I'd have to look up for other display types... but a powered black pixel and a powered white pixel at the same backlight level don't really differ all that much, consumption-wise: http://techlogg.com/2010/05/black-vs-white-screen-power-consumption-24-more-monitors-tested/17
Software theme is a fashion business. A few years ago dark theme were really hype, nowadays light theme do a come back.
Darker color scheme are often used effectively in software that focuses heavily on visual content. For example Adobe Lightroom, Adobe After Effects, Microsoft Expression Blend, and Kaxaml are interfaces that have a dark color theme. This allows the interface to fade into the background and let the content come alive
Why is it not widely used? I guess it depends on your crowd. For these applications, it tends to work out great but many people don't like dark interfaces. At my company I created an interface for a very complicated piece of software using a dark UI. It helped to simplify everything and bring attention to the necessary elements at specific times. The problem was, a lot of people complained. "It's too dark," "it doesn't look good on my laptop when I am using in the bright sun" etc. Some people just hate dark interfaces.
Bottom line: if your application is very content driven, esp with visual content, consider a dark interface but be prepared for some opposition.
Alternative solution: provide 2 themes, one light and one dark. This is done in Microsoft's Expression Blend (although the light theme looks quite awful, IMO)
Also, it is important to note that it is often a bit more difficult to get a dark interface that works well. A little more care must be given to legibility of text on the dark background (i.e. making it bright enough to be legible but not so bright that it is distracting to read).
+1 I've always loved the darker interface in Lightroom. Not only that, but in general if a light-on-dark interface is designed well, it can reduce glare over long periods of use. Pure white text on a dark background can make you squint, but light gray text is a lot easier on the eyes.
Why are all the major video websites (Youtube, Vimeo, Hulu) using light color schemes? Video is "visual content", so according to your theory, video sites should use a dark color scheme to draw attention to the videos. On a related note, why do all the porn video sites use dark color schemes?
"Some people just hate dark interfaces." That's why I always try to provide an alternative theme. A dark (especially black) interface is often derided as "hacker black".
Thank you for including your story with real user feedback to support your answer.
I love dark themes - I have sensitive eyes so I use userstyles for sites and use dark theme for my operating systems too.
@JoJo May I mention that Netflix and Amazon Prime Video's dark interfaces? Off the top of my head, it seems that dark interfaces are used for movies, series and porn because they're usually seen in dark rooms, as opposed to YouTube and other services.
@BaptisteCandellier His comment is from 2011. Youtube does have a darkmode nowadays.