On September 13th, 2021, LinkedIn announced the rollout of its new dark mode, giving more than 774 million users worldwide the option to browse the social network with white text on a dark background. LinkedIn joins other tech companies, including Facebook and Twitter, that have already implemented a dark theme.
There are many benefits to implementing a dark mode; the user setting cuts down on eye strain, limits exposure to blue light, helps save battery life and aids those with visual impairments. Having attempted to release a dark mode in 2019, the social network used a more customer-centric approach this time around, putting accessibility and inclusivity at the front of their dark mode initiative. The new user mode is just a small part of LinkedIn’s mandate to make the user experience easier, more intuitive and more enjoyable for every member.
Design thinking is all about building products and services optimized to meet the needs of the end-user. Organizations and platforms like LinkedIn have improved the value of existing products and services by looking at user research through a design thinking lens. Let’s deconstruct how LinkedIn used the design thinking principle of empathy to develop and launch its new dark mode setting.
Accessibility & Inclusivity: Empathizing with Extreme Users
In Linkedin’s global announcement, the platform stated that a dark user mode had been highly-requested for the last three years. Redesigning a product experience around users’ needs, especially those who know the platform well enough to voice their needs, is the pinnacle of customer-centricity. The design thinking principle of empathizing with extreme users goes hand in hand when cultivating a customer-centric product experience.
Extreme users are the people on either end of the product or service use spectrum; some don’t use the product or service at all and some use the product or service very frequently. While the former group may represent a distrust of your brand or service, the latter group is knowledgeable, proactive, and willing to experiment. Speaking to extreme users on either end of the spectrum can spark creativity and design opportunities that you’d never have imagined.
Empathy is our ability to see the world through other people’s eyes and experience things as they do. Observation is the key to empathy, listening to input from all walks of life. Linkedin regularly asks for user feedback in their marketing communications, distributes customer surveys and does user testing throughout the year.
When applied to a group of extreme users, empathy can quickly reveal gaps in product experience. Linkedin was able to identify access as the gap to an improved customer experience by empathizing with their user base. Customers had been writing in and requesting the feature year after year for various reasons. LinkedIn designed a comprehensive dark mode that made the platform more accessible to all users and satisfied all perspectives by actively listening and empathizing with requests. The dark mode enables all LinkedIn users to take advantage of the platform, day or night, on mobile or desktop, on any browser, whether they have sight sensitivity, low vision, or a disability.
LinkedIn’s Next Moves
As part of their new dark mode, LinkedIn also introduced dark mode versions of popular emojis. These illustrations capture a wide variety of industries beyond tech and represent professionals of all abilities and backgrounds. All users now have access to the form of communication, whether in light or dark mode. LinkedIn’s broader push to make its platform more inclusive and accessible will also incorporate improved text scaling processes, optimal device orientation switching and updated page reflow.