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Link Colors observation

Something of note - during the debate about the absolute necessity that links be a uniform color, nobody brought up that the darling of the JoS crowd, Google, doesn't follow this convention.

The links for "Cached" and "Similar Pages" are grey.

Also check out Google Groups - the links for the group name and "View Thread" are green. Anyone heard any complaints about users being lost on Google? Will one of those advocates of "Blue/Purple uber alles" please write to the good folks at Google and tell them they don't know anything about website design? [grin]


Saturday, June 28, 2003

Dude!! Fantastic catch! There aren't too many people arguing that google is a poorly designed site confusing for visitors to use.

As for me, I've been using the internet since before the web existed and I still can't remember if it's blue or red or purple or whatever the default is supposed to be.

Here in Safari, it's bright blue and dark blue. Now I think that the brighter, more saturated colors mean unvisited -- that I can remember since it's sort of intuitive. But blue vs red vs green just doesn't make any sense to me and ten years from now after seeing it a million times more I probably still won't remember it.

X. J. Scott
Sunday, June 29, 2003

Do you want a prize? But seriously -- if you look carefully, the links that _matter_ (i.e., point to the pages you are searching for) are the same colour as the default settings in windows.  (Interestingly, if you have changed your settings, Google does not notice -- I suppose they have set the colours explicitly.)

I changed my IE colours earlier today, for black-on-white is proving too much for my poor mince pies. I changed my link colours while I was at it. This made a _big_ difference; I was lost for about an hour or so, just through having to look twice when visiting a new page through not being accustomed to the link colours.

But I'll not be annoyed at web designers ignoring me until they start asking me about C++.

(Incidentally I think that Google _is_ a bit tiresome to use, because it doesn't let you bookmark an advanced search (groups or web) page that is set to display 100 results per page sorted by your preferred criteria.)

Sunday, June 29, 2003


This URL will go to the Google Groups advanced search page, set to display 100 results/page, in English and sorted by date:

You've just got to decode the URL parameters, which isn't hard.

John Topley (
Sunday, June 29, 2003

This site overrides colors, too. It forces the white background and the black text (although it seems to be obeying the link colors properly).

Brad Wilson (
Sunday, June 29, 2003

with the target audience of slashdot being computer geeks, I would be astonished if there _had_ been any complaints.

certainly doesn't change the core idea.  good usability required consistency.

Sunday, June 29, 2003

How did Slashdot come into this? I'm talking about Google.

"certainly doesn't change the core idea.  good usability required consistency."

The core idea is "make users happy". With Google being one of the top web sites in the world, I'm thinking they've done that. Now mind you, it's their content that's done that, but I don't recall *ever* hearing a single complaint about Google's interface - in fact generally I hear praise for how clean it is.

So that challenges the assertion that blue/purple is the only acceptable color for links.


Sunday, June 29, 2003

If you understand why the rules are there, you can break them.
they use standard link colors for standard links, standard text for the main data, bold for the stuff which is important to you (words matching the query), a second color for the link (the actual thing you which it found for you, but not the main 'human' data), and grey to indicate other things an advanced user can do which are not part of the core result set.

i wonder if they wrote up their thought process? the above is based on what i can see as a user.

Sunday, June 29, 2003

"How did Slashdot come into this? I'm talking about Google."

sorry...slashdot on the brain today for some reason.

"in fact generally I hear praise for how clean it is. "

not to argue that point but the most praise I hear about google is how it resists adding pointless images....IMO that fact by itself places it faaarrrr ahead of any other search engine.

but anyway...

"So that challenges the assertion that blue/purple is the only acceptable color for links."

not really.

Google still uses the standard blue for the most important links (ie, the links that its most important the customers recognise)

On its home page for instance, nothing but blue links as far as the eyes can see.

If I perform a search ("importance of consistency in web design) I get every search result with its own, _blue_ link at the top.  These are instantly recognizable as links and if this search result is a good one this is the link that 99% of users will care about.
Underneath each result is a link in grey, showing a rough hierarchy, not many people will need this and it makes sense that the link colour is slightly different to the more importance search result at the top.
Finally there is green text at the bottom giving the full url (is not a link however) and beside that a grey link to the cached page. Again, not many users at all will be interested so it makes a lot of sense to use a less 'in your face' colour.

A similar approach is used for groups and the other areas.

Overall Id call it a very good design by someone who understood both  the importance of maintaining consistency _and_  where it was best to do so.

Certainly Id be willing to bet that if you emailed the google development team and asked them why they choose blue as the color for their main links, they would explain the importance of using that colour as an aid to usability.

Sunday, June 29, 2003

oops...sorry, it looks as though Ive just repeated mb's points again.

....definitely not my day...

Sunday, June 29, 2003

three things:

- Jacob is an advisor to Google

- underline rather than specific colour is the standard for links IMHO

- (non colour aware person) the hue/brighteness (er you get what I mean) of the colours is the same. i.e. the same 'type' of blue, green and red.

Monday, June 30, 2003

Who cares whether a link is visited or not? I don't think it matters in most sites, particularly if they are designed to be easy to navigate.  What I do care about is being able to visually identify what is a link.

I do think it's generally better if links are blue, as then they are obviously links.  The gray thing in google I won't argue with as they are indicating they are less important links, and nobody seems to be confused by this - however I might argue against myself - and also say: Why are they not confused? Doesn't gray in Windows mean disabled?

What I hate most is non-underlined links (how do I know if it's a link or just a color?)  and vice-versa (underlined non-link text). 

That said, there are exceptions. For example, on some of our sites I have blue underlined links with site name to go to other related sites.  Under the blue underline is a description of what the link is about in what looks like text, however if you mouse-over the text it turns into a link.  I think this is logical and reasonable and understandable, because (a) you can visually see the link by clicking the title, (b) if you click on the description text, I'd bet 9/10 it's because you missed the title, (c) when you move the mouse over the description, there is a clear visual indication it is a link (it becomes underlined)

S. Tanna
Monday, June 30, 2003

> Who cares whether a link is visited or not?
I case. I like to know if I've already visited that site.

Leonardo Herrera
Tuesday, July 1, 2003

Oops-- make that "care".

Leonardo Herrera
Tuesday, July 1, 2003

For a search engine, maybe. For a typical corporate site with a menu down the left or along the top?

S. Tanna
Wednesday, July 2, 2003

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