7/12/2020

Looking back at my 1st project as Product designer at OmniSci

I just celebrated my 3 years at OmniSci (formerly MapD). Looking back, my biggest highlight was to move from Frontend engineering to Product design. 22 years ago, the same year I founded my UX design company BioDesign, I started teaching programming, so I always had both interests. 

My first project in that new role was to convert the app to dark mode. I always vaguely dismissed the request for dark mode UI as a trend. But then I got a very specific use case: the condition for our app to be displayed on the giant screen of the NVIDIA GTC conference was that it needed to be in dark mode, light mode simply blasts way too much on these giant screens.

It was a Sunday and the conference was on the next day so no time for a new build. I wrote some javascript to run in the browser console to override the css on-the-fly. Here's the result:



I developed dark mode screens before, mostly for monitoring apps where users have to stare at it all day, to relax the eye. But my manager Christian Baptiste showed me how to use Material guidelines for dark themes which really added some structure to UI patterns I was mostly improvising until then. From there I developed Omnisci-ui, which is our in-house theme for RMWC, an excellent React Material library. We also developed, with Chrstian and my colleague Duncan lane, a set of reusable Figma components for our mockups to match our javascript components.




I still need to learn more facts about the benefits of dark mode. But at the end of the day, a big part of making our users successful is to make them happy. We delivered dark mode with the next release of OmniSci Immerse and it was a great success. So I have to thank a giant screen for forcing me to learn how to properly design dark themes.