I've just set up an account on this forum specifically to make this request.
I'm an Illustrator user who really resents Adobe's new CC subscription scheme, so I'm interested in software that provides a realistic alternative to Adobe's core products. I've just bought Affinity Designer and so far am very impressed by what I see, feature-wise. There's a lot to like here.
However, I DO NOT LIKE dark user interfaces, and I was dismayed when I found that a dark interface is all that's on offer here. Maybe it's a feature of my eyes, but I find the dark colours extremely difficult to resolve and focus on, especially if I'm working on fairly bright/pale artwork (which is invariably the case).
UI designers seem to be under the misapprehension that having dark user interfaces is helpful because the tools 'get out of the way' and don't distract from the content. In fact, that's not true (or, at least, it's missing the point). The key thing is contrast: for ideal working conditions, every part of the screen that contains active content (i.e. artwork and tools) should be of a similar brightness to the overall intensity of the artwork. So, if you're designing dark/predominantly black artwork, your eyes need to adjust to that darkness, and hence having dark tools is helpful in that situation. But in the vast majority of cases (particularly when you're designing light artwork for use in print, typically on a white background), your eyes have to accommodate the glare of the bright colours, so the tools need to be similarly pale too. If there's a mismatch between artwork lightness and interface lightness, your eyes are constantly having to adjust as they move between the two areas, which is incredibly tiring.
Maybe I suffer from this more than other people, but I'm very conscious of it – and it's the reason why I hate dark user interfaces. It's not that I'm against them in terms of their looking good; it's all about usability. Ideally, the lightness of the user interface, in a design application such as this, should be adjustable on a per-document basis, because – as noted – for the best experience, its overall lightness should be similar to that of the artwork itself. (So maybe it could be tied to the document background colour for any given document.) But at the very least, given that most artwork is either printed or viewed on-screen against a light background, a light user interface should definitely be the default.
Frankly it amazes me that Adobe has got this wrong in recent times. It seems to be insisting on dark user interfaces itself, by default, which is barmy. But the fact that Adobe's started doing this doesn't mean that other developers should blindly follow its lead. Dark user interfaces may look cool, but they're actually a really bad idea, especially if enforced. Please, developers, THINK about such things! Take design decisions for the right reasons, rather than just to follow the current trend.
At least Adobe does still offer the full range of dark to light in its user interface preferences, so it's still possible to make them look like they used to look (black text on pale grey) – which is massively better than the dark default.
Unfortunately, Affinity Designer doesn't have this feature. OK, at least I can set the UI gamma. I've put it up to its brightest possible setting and it helps a little bit, but it's not nearly enough. At minimum, there needs to be a similar alternative to approach from the white end of the scale: i.e. to start with a very bright interface and darken it down.
Please think about acting on this as a matter of urgency, Affinity developers. Much as I'd love to see more 'real' features being developed for this excellent-looking product, this UI issue is, to me, surprisingly important because it impinges on the usability of the entire application. While the interface continues to be excessively dark and overly hard to read, it's going to materially hamper my ability to use the software.
We don't need skins and alternative icons. The basic look is fine. We just need to be able to lighten it right up so that the tools and buttons use dark text on a pale grey background. Thanks for listening.