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article imageGoogle is turning search results black in a major redesign

By James Walker     May 9, 2016 in Technology
Google is testing a new core search experience that sees traditionally blue links turned black. The updated experience is visible only to a small subset of users and there's no word on whether Google intends to make it the default in the future.
Technology companies regularly conduct A/B feature testing with their users to establish the reaction to an upcoming change or feature addition ahead of time. Google is currently using the technique to scout opinions on a major redesign of its search results page, the Telegraph reports.
Over the past few days, Google users have been reporting that the normally blue unclicked search result links have turned black. Although a colour change may sound comparatively minor, the result creates a markedly different feel when looking at search results.
All of the usual blue text on Google's results is replaced with a lightened shade of black in the experiment. The change affects link listings, shortcuts to other sections and details in cards. The black text is also visible in search results shown in Google's mobile apps.
The black links haven't gone down well with users. Threads on Twitter and Reddit indicate that many people are against the new colour, described variably as "terrible" and "horrible." Users have criticised how the black colour makes it difficult to differentiate titles and summary text, making it harder to identify links in search results.
Google search results have turned black for some users
Google search results have turned black for some users
If Google is testing the feature with the public, it has a reason for making the change though. It is almost certainly aiming to increase its revenue, playing on human perception of colour and design to influence the way users interact with search results.
In 2014, Google famously conducted an A/B test to determine the optimum shade of blue to use for links in adverts. The company's designers couldn't decide on two different blues, so they decided to test 41 different shades with users. The outcome added $200 million to Google's revenue.
Alongside the black experiment, Google is also again A/B testing shades of blue, according to users. Business Insider's Rob Price uploaded a photo of two different blues in use in search results today. Google appears to be evaluating several different designs of its search pages in a bid to see what works best for users.
The company hasn't commented on the black links that are appearing online. There is no known way to force enable or disable the feature, although a few methods have been suggested for both. Some people who have seen the colour change have been able to disable it by logging out of their Google account and signing back in again.
The Next Web reports that opening a new private browsing tab in the Google Chrome web browser gives you a chance of seeing the black links. The site has not seen the same trick succeed when using Mozilla Firefox.
More about Google, Search, Google Search, Search results
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