Email Design Tips & Tricks: Designing For Dark Mode

Alice Tavernese
By Alice Tavernese
By Alice Tavernese,
Oct 20, 2022
Cell phone with settings

As a business owner, effectively communicating with your customers is key to the success of your business. A part of that communication should be your interactions with your customers and potential customers via email. Email has become one of the most important tools for small and large businesses owners alike to broadcast your voice. Email marketing is so effective because any emails you have acquired through your website, socials or anywhere that a potential customer has freely given permission to be sent emails, is a part of your “owned media”. “Owned media” means you own those email addresses and can market your business to them for free, rather than having to pay advertising fees to acquire leads from cold audiences.

Man nodding in agreement

In one of our recent blog posts, we spoke on the effectiveness of email marketing and showcased some ways to create successful campaigns and flows. So this time around, we wanted to take a closer look at the actual content of the emails themselves. What makes up a good email? What should the design of your emails look like? Well, to make your life as a business owner easier, you should definitely invest in a good template for your emails and schedule them on a regular basis. Your emails will be viewed across many devices and with this blog, we aim to bring more attention to designing dual templates for both Light and Dark Mode.

What is Dark Mode?

Phone screen turning from black to white

So, what is dark mode? It is the option to make your device's native interface appear with a black background with white or grey text, instead of the usual white background with black text. Made widely popular back in 2019, Apple introduced this option in its iOS settings, although many Android devices already had this option since around 2016. With its introduction into the Apple iOS, it was made a staple for many users.

Many who use this setting say it helps to reduce eye strain because staring at a bright white screen for long periods of time can cause eye fatigue for some people. And now, there are many devices and programs that have this feature baked into their settings if you know where to look.

The Benefits of Using Dark Mode

Not only does it look slick, but dark mode actually has a lot of practical uses. It fares a lot better in low light settings. An example would be using dark mode on your phone while in a movie theater will help to reduce the light your phone gives off and therefore be less distracting to others if you decide to check your messages during the movie.

Angry glowing face

We’ve already mentioned that it helps some people reduce their eye strain and dark mode is also said to reduce the amount of blue light being emitted from your phone, which (in light mode) can be the cause of some sleepless nights if you use your phone right before bed.

Most opinions on all these matters are very split, but what we do know is that a lot more people are switching over to using dark mode.

Why You Should Optimize Your Email Campaigns for Dark Mode

According to a 2020 study, 81.9% of people use dark mode across their devices. And specifically speaking about mobile users, there are studies that report 50% - 80% of mobile users across both Android and Apple use dark mode. Even on the low end of those estimates, we can surmise that half of the subscribers who view your emails on just their mobile device are potentially viewing in dark mode. No matter the size of your list, 50% is a lot! This is why it's super important to be aware of dark mode and how your emails are displaying with this setting.

Email examples on mobile phones

Things like background, buttons, and text colors can be automatically inverted if you do not have a specific template for this setting. This makes it important to select the right colors, and send test previews which you can view in dark mode to see how they are being displayed.

How To Create An Effective Email For Dark Mode

When using dark mode, you have to use a lot less screen space than usual. This means that you need to make sure that any information you send out via email is not going to take up too much room. You want to keep things simple and concise.

Dark email examples
Bellari Home Images

When designing dark mode emails, keep in mind that they should be simple and easy to read. Avoid using bright colors and patterns. Instead, stick to black text on white backgrounds. Some things to consider are:

1. Optimize your logos and all other images for both styles (Light & Dark).

Logo Images
Bellari Home Images

Save your logos as PNGs with transparent backgrounds, if your logo is Black, consider adding a white border around it so it will still be visible in dark mode.

2. Any images should have enough padding (space around them) so that they always appear centered in the space they are in.

Padding around content

3. When in doubt, default to text only.

Only use where this makes sense for you and your business, but the option is always there to just send a text based email with little to no imagery.

Dark Mode Email Example
Bellari Home Image


Many of the email clients have the option to view your email in dark mode and always take advantage of this.

Prompt for sending test email

For those who are code savvy, you can bake CSS code into your emails to further control how your email appears to customers who have this setting active.

CSS email

To Sum Up

Always be testing and improving on the ways you can effectively communicate with your customers. Email can be a powerful marketing tool when used correctly and its finer details should not be overlooked.

There are many different facets of email marketing that can be explored and our email experts here at Shoelace are ready to help. Get in touch with us today to get started on growing your business with email marketing & Shoelace!

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