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Re: Google removes underlines. What do you think?


From: Iaffaldano, Michelangelo
Date: Mar 17, 2014 8:07AM

Elizabeth, if you and I are looking at the same version of Google's SERP, it seems that the links in the body of the page are underlined, while the ones that belong in the top and side navigation are not. This is a widely adopted convention. An old Jakob Nielsen column spells it out like so: "There are two main cases in which you can safely eliminate underlines: navigation menus and other lists of links. However, this is true only when the page design clearly indicates the area's function." (http://www.nngroup.com/articles/guidelines-for-visualizing-links/)

I completely agree with you that we should style a link's focus state. In this case, Google's default focus outline is arguably more visible than their subtle hover effects, but no matter.


-----Original Message-----
From: Elizabeth J. Pyatt [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ]
Sent: March 14, 2014 2:37 PM
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] Google removes underlines. What do you think?

I see two accessibility problems with the links current Google search results page.

1. They are using the hover attribute to display underlines, but they did NOT do the same for :focus. If you are on a keyboard, links are particularly invisible.
2. The majority of the links are actually gray and plaintext. They include the links at the top (i.e. "Web, Images, News...) and the links connecting to Google Circles.
I have to ask - why have links to a Google Circle is they are practically invisible?

In terms of removing the underline for in-text links, I am not a fan, but am OK with it when link text is bold face (this can provide some contrast for those with color vision issues).

I also think using a shade of blue different from black is important because most people with color vision issues can perceive blue. But the blue shouldn't be so dark that it merges with the rest of the text. Unfortunately, I see a lot of that these days.


P.S. I will note that the top hits for "link usability" indicate that underlining is good practice.

Elizabeth J. Pyatt, Ph.D.
Instructional Designer
Teaching and Learning with Technology
Penn State University
<EMAIL REMOVED> , (814) 865-0805 or (814) 865-2030 (Main Office)

210 Rider Building (formerly Rider II)
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