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Google Gambles With The Rainbow

Phil Hatfield

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Google is a search engine that has become ingrained in our lives, so much so that it has even become a verb! Our first port of call when searching for online news, information, maps, images and videos is more often than not to ‘Google It.’ It’s speedy, handy and easy. Yet the search engine giant has left many users disappointed with it’s new style change- swapping its recognisable blue search engine results links for black text in its first ever colour change to its results pages.

As Cara McGoogan reports for The Telegraph, the popular search engine appears to be A/B testing, also known as ‘split testing’ the new green hue. Split testing is the process of comparing two versions of a web page in order to see which one generates better results. You compare two web pages by showing the two variants e.g. A and B, to similar visitors at the same time. The one that delivers the desired results is the winner. This ‘testing’ element and the seemingly unpopular reaction to the colour change indicates that the change may not be permanent, although the organisation declined to comment on the future of its style and shades of text when asked by The Telegraph.

However, according to the newspaper’s website, a spokesman for Google said the company is “always” testing tiny tweaks to its results page. Regarding this recent colour change, Google admits, “We’re not quite sure that black is the new blue.”

Google, Google Colour Change, A/B Testing


In 2015 Google dedicated months debating and testing whether or not to switch from red navigation links to blue links, eventually settling on the now familiar, blue.

The search engine has been known to experiment with colours down to minute detail- so much so it has attracted criticism. Former expert designer at the company, Doug Bowman left in 2009 after his fellow Google designers couldn’t decide which shade of blue to go with… so they proceeded to test 41 shades , in what was dubbed “50 Shades of Blue.” The A/B testing revealed users were more likely to click on a slightly more purple tint of blue. Bowman said: “I’ve grown tired of debating such miniscule design decisions. There are more exciting design problems in this world to tackle.” A tad excessive maybe, but the meticulous experiment meant Google pocketed an extra £138 million.

What if you don’t like the new duller shade of text and want to change it back? 

Whilst there isn’t a “one way fits all” method to turn off Google’s Split testing, Google Search Help Forum users recommend logging in and out of your Google Account again to restore your search engine results pages to their former blue glory.

The Telegraph article cites a Reddit user who reported that disabling “Your searches and browsing activity” in Chrome’s settings reverts the links back to blue. Go to the Google home page, click on the grid icon in the top right corner and select “My Account” to disable the feature. Alternatively, in the “Personal info & privacy” box select “activity controls”. In here you can toggle a bar that turns off “Your searches and browsing activity”.

Do you reckon Google is wasting valuable time and resources on pointless activities? Let us know your thoughts on our Facebook page and Twitter!


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