Power BI Dashboards Dark Mode Design

Why and how to design a Power BI dashboard in dark mode

Designing Power BI reports can be challenging, especially if you want to break away from the traditional white background and standard color scheme. For instance, when you want to design a dashboard in dark mode, you need to visualize the data differently than you are used to.

Why design a Power BI dashboard in dark mode?
Using dark mode can provide a more comfortable viewing experience, particularly in low-light settings. It can also enhance the user’s experience by enabling them to focus more easily on the data and visualizations.
Furthermore, if your users are already used to using other tools in dark mode, providing a dark mode dashboard will create a more seamless and consistent experience.

In this article, I will share tips and tricks to help you design a Power BI dashboard in dark mode.

Light Mode Dark Mode

Dark mode design questions

Does my audience benefit from a dark mode Power BI dashboard?

Before beginning the design process for the dashboard, it is essential to understand the audience who will be using it. Three examples:

The team uses various tools that offer a dark mode option. Users have expressed that dark mode is easier on the eyes and they prefer this type of design. Therefore, this audience would benefit from a dark mode design because it aligns with their way of viewing information.

To avoid imposing a design preference on the user, it can be beneficial to offer two design options that users can choose from. This way they have the freedom to select a design that suits their personal preferences.

Not a good target audience for a dark mode dashboard. Next to the environmental impact of printing black ink all over white paper, these people also tend to make notes on the physical copies of the dashboard.

How to choose the color?

When designing a dark-mode dashboard, it is necessary to make different color choices. The colors used on a light background do not necessarily work on a dark background. The goal is to create a balance between contrast and readability.

The background color

When designing dark mode dashboards, it’s tempting to just make the background black. However, this can be harsh on the eyes, for the same reason that light-mode dashboards are often not 100% white. Instead, use a dark gray background. This will provide enough contrast to make the text readable, without being too overwhelming.

Black Dark Gray

I highly recommend not using the same colors for visuals and text as used on a light background. They are most likely not visible on a darker background (see the example).

The text color

Avoid using white against dark backgrounds; opt for light gray. Light gray is easier on the eyes on a dark background.

The visualization colors

Choose contrasting colors and avoid using too many different colors to keep it tidy and easy to navigate. (same advice as for light mode dashboards).

Unreadable Readable

Is the dashboard accessible?

When designing a dashboard, it is essential to ensure it is accessible to your audience, including those with low vision or color blindness.

One way of doing this is by using enough contrast for the dashboard’s text and visuals. By using adequate contrast, you can ensure that the text and visuals are easily distinguishable. This not only helps to ensure that everyone can use the dashboard, but it also makes it more user-friendly and enjoyable for everyone.

So, when designing your dashboard, pay attention to the contrast levels you are using. With the proper contrast, you can create a dashboard that is beautiful and accessible to everyone.

I use this website to check the accessibility of my dashboards: color-blindness.com.

Not enough contrast Power BI dashboard
Make sure that there is enough contrast, otherwise the dashboard is not accessible with low vision.
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