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?
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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).
Dark on light vs light on dark themes can have multiple effects, such as:
Bringing attention to an application vs bringing attention to the application's contents
Emphasizing details in text vs readability in text
With bright on dark text, the text seems to expand (since the human perception makes brighter objects glow). This leads to the text appearing bolder. If the text is already bold, this may make the text hard to read (depending on font), as the spacing between the lines will reduce. If the text is not bold (or if the font is clean and narrow to start with), it will make the text stand out.
Making text more readable in bright environments vs dark environments
In dark environments, light background can strain the eyes.
In very bright environments, light on dark will help you see the text but make it hard to differ between shades (white text vs grey text). Dark on light will help you see the difference between shades, but if the environment is too bright, you will only see the darker text (the grey text will seem white).
Making screens easier to look at for long period of times or in different environments.
Making text more readable for people with various eye-sight problems that affect contrast perception
Some people can only read high contrast text, 50% grey on black is higher contrast than 50% grey on white.
Some people can't see well in environments that are too dark and some can't see well in environments that are too bright — each will require a different (opposing) theme (I'll let you guess which requires which).
Matching people's point of view
People that are used to light backgrounds and don't like changes won't like bright on dark.
Creative people may prefer dark backgrounds, as it both introduces a challenge to common conventions and emphasizes detail and colors.
It is important to note that a lot of research on which is better was conducted incorrectly (length of test per theme, controlling for different environment illumination levels) and is now out of date (based on CRT screens and not LCD screens).
Possible reasons why dark themes are less common:
I think that modern window-based OSes defaulted at first to black on white to
differentiate them from the old console-based OSes
make them look more like paper-based products (e.g. books).
Light themes are the current standard; people are used to them
Light themes require less work from developers (since the OS/browser default theme is light, developers don't need to override all the colors)
why this color scheme is not widely used?
Good question without an obvious answer. You could claim all sorts of trends are involved, but I think it would be a brave move to accept any one reason for why we tend to go with dark on light. I think your best bet is to develop the scheme that best suits your site's purpose and its users.
For a quick overview of the conflicting studies/opinions:
This study found dark on light to be the best - sort of. They feel that an aesthetic preference may be in play influencing the outcomes. They also found a light on dark scheme to perform almost as well - per Nielsen's quote (see page 19).
This study found that dark text on light backgrounds was more readable - most designers will go for a design that is better for their users.
And for just a general look at the issue, this article describes some of the issues in choosing dark on light versus light on dark.
Note that in the case of this last article, they have some examples that I don't believe follow generally accepted guidelines for light-on-dark with regards to font settings (spacing, etc). IMO the examples are a little off.
The main reason a light-on-dark user interface can break down is when the text becomes glaringly bright compared to the dark background. This is one fundamental reason white text on a black background can be hard to read for long periods of time.
Applications like Adobe Lightroom use a light gray on dark gray colour scheme and this seems to greatly reduce glare with the text. The great thing about light on dark interfaces, however, is that they reduce overall glare when using the software for a long period of time.
It comes as no surprise that software like Adobe Premiere Pro, Lightroom, AVID Media Composer and in the upcoming Final Cut Pro X use a dark interface as they are typically used for extensive periods of time.
The difference between long exposure to a bright screen than to a dark screen with some bright areas is quite significant. I can work in Premiere Pro and Lightroom for a long time and feel much better than using Microsoft Outlook and Visual Studio at work all day. I find myself squinting at the end of the day when at work.
One advantage of light text on a dark background is that different colours in the text are easier to distinguish.
That might not be important to most readers, but one type of user who makes heavy use of different colours of text is the software developer.
I suspect there are two reasons why it is easier to differentiate between colours on a dark background:
Text on a dark background can be made brighter, while text on a light background is usually given a darker intensity, for reasons of contrast. As we know, it is more difficult to distinguish colours as their intensity decreases.
The glare of the light background is not flooding the senses.
Of course this contrast between colours can be used for more than just text.
(I simply inverted one of these images to create the other.)
I wouldn't discount the possibility that both Windows and MacOS default to a "light" scheme and people tend to want their applications to all be consistent. I use a dark theme on Windows and too often run into applications that can't handle it (they hard-wire colors or, worse, hard-wire some of them), so if this were just a casual preference and not a real visual need I would probably give up and go back to the scheme that "everybody" wants me to use.
If you can make your application honor the system colors (whatever they are), that would be best. If you need to choose specific colors, as is often the case, then you can either offer themes or provide an easy configuration interface. Users are generally willing to do some one-time configuration of applications they'll use often.
According to the Web Style Guide, black on white is best:
Black text on a white background has the highest level of contrast.
In my opinion, dark background apps with a light foreground look sexier and more edgy than their counterpart light background apps which are possibly more traditional or conservative.
That said, in my opinion, due to the volume of graphics, controls and icons around which are normally designed to be used on a light background, dark background apps may be slightly more time consuming to build (depending on your environment).
I guess these are few common reasons for and against dark backgrounds. Anyway in the second case it is very beneficial to set up your display to decrease the PWM blinking.
I think, both (dark and light) are good. But this is very individually and both variants with switcher good for all. Dark gamma is more safe for eyes at night, but i can't see anything at day with dark gamma. Light gamma good at day, but it hurt my eyes at night. Dark global gui and web css at night. Light for day. Simple. And they are should have fast switcher :)
Sorry for my Eng
It depends on the environment. Brighter themes are better in bright environments and dark themes are better in dark environments.
Therefore e.g. navigation systems for cars switch the theme at night or in tunnels to a dark theme.
It depends on the user. Some people can better see in dark conditions and some users vice versa. I think this has to do with the circadian rhythm but I don't want to overcomplicate things here.
According to color theory! Color Theory
White,black and Gray Color are consider to be neutral
But personaly most of the users avoid black and other dark screens screens, in daily routine Wearing black will allow you to keep a low-profile in social settings if that is your intention. Don't wear black if you want to stand out amidst a crowd. Most folks don't even bother to wear black at funerals anymore, it's just too sad to wear dreary and dark colors.
the last part is Taken from ask.com
I would say that this is mostly dependent on the user's perception. Many users are comfortable in dark themes whereas may are comfortable on light themes.
The dark on light themes are more widely used now a days as the user who is using the system will be at ease while using it. The light color does not stress the user's eyes much. The light color should also be of mild shade to improve the UI satisfaction of user.
The dark on light will help the user to highlight the important content and it is also easy to use it.