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Come to the Dark (Mode) Side

By: Trial Interactive Team


Friday, March 4, 2022 | 2:20 PM

dark mode image

improving the ctms interface

Many of the decisions made by our Trial Interactive product team start as suggestions from our user community of clinical professionals. While planning the development of our recently launched Clinical Trial Management System (CTMS), we led a focus group where clinical professionals weighed in on potential improvements for the new CTMS.

Generally speaking, users felt dissatisfied with interface options from available systems. We found that, more often than not, users over 40 years old wanted options to control font size for readability on their desktop or laptop. For users under 30, most reported wanting to have all information pertaining to the clinical trial available on their personal device (iPhone, Android phone, tablet, etc.) through an app. A common interface request that somewhat defied age brackets was an option for “dark mode.”

What Is Dark Mode?

“Dark mode is a software option that makes the user interface darker. It changes light backgrounds to a dark color and changes text from dark to light. The result is a pseudo-inverted interface that isn't exactly the opposite of the ‘light mode,’ but has mostly dark colors"

Dark mode, in practice, is a bit akin to older PC interfaces with a dark screen and light type font or what you might associate with a developer interface. Children of the ’80s might recall DOS screens that looked like this:

dark mode command


What is the big deal about essentially just reversing contrast on the screen? Well, in short, clinical professionals have to look at the interfaces of their eClinical solutions throughout much of the day—particularly study managers and clinical research associates (CRAs), among other roles. While dark mode isn’t available in a lot of solutions, for some users, it can make all the difference in how tolerable it is to spend long periods of time staring at the same interface. Subjectively, some people prefer to view their screens this way, which is a good enough reason for us! Having the option available allows users to customize the experience to their preference.

What Are the Potential Benefits of Dark Mode?

Beyond subjective aesthetic preferences, there are real benefits to switching to dark mode. A 2021 Forbes article points out the commonly understood benefits:

  • It is preferable in low light settings to reduce the amount of light your screen emits into the space (think someone pulling out their bright white phone screen in a movie theater).
  • It reduces blue light, which has been shown to improve sleep by reducing the impact blue light has on circadian rhythms.
  • It helps your phone or tablet battery last longer.
  • It has been shown to assist with certain visual sensitivities or impairments.

Research is ongoing on the benefits of dark mode, so for now, it may continue to be the subject of some debate. Regardless, a lot of users prefer this view over a white screen and it does appear to have benefits for users experiencing certain eye symptoms. According to Healthline, the following symptoms are reported to be eased by dark mode:

  • Frequent dry eye
  • Eye strain or pain
  • Increased tension headaches or migraine
  • Insomnia or difficulty getting to sleep
  • Visual disturbances

We all have been forced to interact with interfaces that grate on us in one way or another. In an increasingly virtual work world, we’re spending more and more time with our screens. Simple adjustments, like tinkering with fonts, contrast, and color schemes, can go a long way toward reducing daily stress and fatigue. It’s practical to implement features like dark mode to provide every small advantage possible to clinical professionals in their daily activities.

Much like our take on AI and machine learning, we’re emphatic about using technology in practical ways to help study teams manage the complexity of clinical research. According to our community, the eyeballs of clinical professionals from their 20s to their 60s are grateful to have the option for a darker interface, either because they think it looks cool or because they feel it has real specific benefits.

For more information on how Trial Interactive uses practical innovation to develop eClinical solutions that pharma, biotech, medical device, and CRO companies love, contact us at

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