People who spend a lot of time on the computer can wind up with eye fatigue. However, designers have an opportunity to reduce visual strain with a few changes toward excellent user interface (UI). When the UI is better, the user experience (UX) naturally improves in many cases.
Can Eye Fatigue Be Reversed?
According to The Vision Council, around 60% of people who are online more than a few hours a day suffer some digital eye strain. Eye fatigue occurs from viewing harsh white backgrounds or difficult to read text. People also can develop poor habits, such as not glancing away from their screens every few seconds.
Eye fatigue usually lessens within a few hours of stopping use of digital displays. Long-term, people may want to turn to methods such as dark mode on their mobile devices and only spending so much time a day on the computer.
Designers can help people avoid eye fatigue in the first place by implementing these tips.
1. Choose Dark Backgrounds
While not always the case, a good rule of thumb is that darker backgrounds/designs create less eye strain than brilliant white or pale yellow backgrounds. Of course a lot has to do with the combination of text and background and how much contrast you choose.
To reduce eye fatigue look at some dark mode designs and how they look both on a desktop and on a smartphone. If you can’t stare at them more than a few seconds without your eyes hurting, the color ranges likely need more work.
2. Utilize Proper Lighting
Don’t forget design for things such as manufacturing systems. Engineers sometimes complain about the design of the computer screens on pieces of equipment. The designs can often create eye strain because they tend to be on a light background with tiny text.
Better lighting can help improve the situation and reduce eye fatigue. The best lighting for computer readouts on machinery as well as visual inspections of parts is steady and reliable so light changes are from the parts and not from anything else.
3. Use Larger Text
Tiny text is sometimes the reason for eye strain. Making the font slightly larger can have a huge impact on how readable the screen is. Larger text can also reduce the amount of white space on lighter backgrounds.
Bolder, darker, bigger text is much easier to read than tiny little letters you have to strain to see.
4. Create Responsive Pages
By 2025, mobile app revenue will hit $613 billion, with new apps appearing every month. To grab user attention in a crowded marketplace, you have to design an app that not only functions as expected but has an excellent design interface, right down to not causing eye strain.
Create responsive pages that adjust to different screen brightnesses and look as visually appealing on desktop as smaller screens.
5. Turn to Warm Colors
If the overall design doesn’t allow for a darker-mode theme, you can also use warmer colors to reduce some of the eye strain people experience. Studies show blue light is part of what messes with human circadian rhythm and creates vision issues. Warm colors use less blue light, so designing with a warm yellow or earth tones may help.
Of course, people can also set their phones or computer screens to filter out blue light or buy special glasses, but many don’t think of it or won’t bother. You can fix part of the issue with your designs.
Good UI Is About More Than Functionality
The user interface of any design is a complex beast. Not only should every link, button and action work the way the user expects, but the entire aesthetic must come together for a visually pleasing experience. Since eye fatigue is part of the visual process of visiting a site, making just a few changes in your design means helping users not experience the pain of harsh designs on their eyes.
Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.