I am creating an application for Windows Phone and on the platform, users are able to choose to have either a light or a dark theme for their phone.

Applications are usually expected to follow suit but my application is different (isn't that what everyone says?)

In my case, my application is going to be used for a lot of reading, so I provide users the option to change their theme to whatever makes sense for them (light for daytime, dark for nighttime, etc).

This is fine for the main reading view, but I am not sure what to do for my primary user interface. Should I use the same system theme for the user interface or use the same theme the user has for reading?

  • I don't have a Windows Phone. The light/dark option of the OS is an aesthetic choice? Or are users expected to change this, or is it changed for them, based on lighting conditions? Apr 14, 2013 at 10:09
  • Its an aesthetic choice that users can (and usually do) change when they want. Its unrelated to lighting conditions.
    – chustar
    Apr 14, 2013 at 16:59
  • Who downvoted without explaining the reason?
    – rk.
    Apr 15, 2013 at 3:25

2 Answers 2


In my experience reading long form is a special activity on devices such as smartphones and tablets. Your intention is to be focused on the content for a while, and you will be looking at that screen intensely for a while. This makes it important for the app to be well designed in terms of type and contrast, as the intended use deviates from browsing a website, looking up a phone number or sending a text message.

If the OS offers a light and dark setting, a user's expectation would be for all apps to match that setting for their UI. As you said, it's entirely reasonable to deviate from this setting for the main reading view because it is used differently from the rest of the phone. If you present the setting in terms like "reading view theme" it should be clear that this part of the application has a special status and is treated differently.


If you base if off the users system theme, you might want to mention it to the user on the app's first launch. It is important that the user knows that the theme is inspired from their home theme.

You can ask the user when he first launches the app, if he wants to use the 'system theme' or 'default day/night' theme. Making it an explicit choice.

Ideally, it would make sense if you modify your app to blend in with the system theme to give the user a continuous/unified experience. But, since you mentioned your app is a reading app, it might make sense to give it a custom theme, separate from the system theme. Just make sure the user is aware.

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