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Most websites I come across either use a dark theme by default or have the option to switch to a dark theme. The main exception to this I have found is e-commerce.

All major e-commerce platforms (Amazon, eBay, etc.) exclusively use a light theme. Independent retailers also seem to follow this trend, with light themes nearly universally used for store pages.

Is this purely convention, or is there another reason for the abundance of light themes seen in e-commerce?

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  • I most certainly cannot follow your statement that most websites would use a dark theme by default, let alone offer one. In my experience, the vast majority of websites has a light theme only.
    – Andy
    Feb 24, 2023 at 12:37
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    For e-commerce, I believe it is due to a practical reason: Product shots. It’s already a lot of effort getting product photos right, and managing product variants. Most products will additionally be not very visible against a black background. Only luxury brands might use dark themes by default.
    – Andy
    Feb 24, 2023 at 12:38
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    @Andy Perhaps it is due to my device settings, but almost all of my most commonly visited websites have a dark theme applied by default. Feb 24, 2023 at 12:54
  • It's not really a question that can be definitively answered - it's all going to depend on the site / brand etc. It's too subjective to give a correct answer to, so it's more of a discussion topic that a question that has a solution.
    – JonW
    Feb 24, 2023 at 14:18

2 Answers 2

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In this type of questions, we usually talk about something functional, ignoring the perceptual side.

Why is e-commerce always under a light theme as opposed to a dark theme?

Well, I will not put any link to an adult products e-commerce 😉, but I sense that you have visited a few, most are in a dark theme. Which is the reason? Well, it's something very simple and it's called perception theory.

I make the reasoning from something easier to understand: why do milk products avoid black in their packaging?

There are countless milk products with black packaging, but they always evoke a certain characteristic of the item for sale: energy, extra additive, components in the ingredients, etc.

The same applies to e-commerce: when do you need an online store to have a dark theme?

Answer: when the type of items for sale requires it, based on a concept by one of the essential characteristics of the product or consumer type.

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There are a few potential reasons why e-commerce platforms and retailers tend to use light themes:

Clarity and readability: A light background with dark text can be easier to read, particularly for longer periods of time. E-commerce sites want to ensure that customers can easily browse and read product descriptions without eye strain or discomfort.

Familiarity and convention: As you mentioned, dark themes are still less common than light themes, particularly for e-commerce sites. Because users are generally more familiar with light themes, this can make navigation and browsing more intuitive and user-friendly.

Branding: Many of these eCommerce platforms were created long after the demand for a dark theme emerged. The redesign may lead to a decrease in users, as many of them have been working for years with the old version of the product

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