A controversial decision by the search giant to A/B test the effectiveness of plain black link addresses among black body text has left a sub-section of web users confused and agitated. Google regularly analyses the effect that small alterations to SERPs have on Internet users – and for a good reason…
Google has come under fire from web designers and engineers in the past because of their insistence on data-driven design – however, their reasoning is undeniably faultless when you look specifically at the numbers. According to a Google Executive, the company earned themselves an extra $200 million a year in revenue as a result of testing the effectiveness of different shades of blue a few years ago – an episode better known as “50 Shades of Blue’. A similar test was conducted recently by the network, resulting in the complete replacement of red navigational links with blue ones for all users.
The decision to A/B test black links is one of the more drastic and controversial made so far by the network. Judging by the majority of negative reactions on social media, it is highly unlikely that this change will be rolled out to all users. However, remember that nothing talks to Google like data – so without seeing their results we can never be sure. That said, a spokesperson for Google has reportedly commented saying that “We’re not quite sure that black is the new blue.”
A/B testing efficiency
A/B testing can be a highly effective method for networks that deal in big data to gauge what version of a site or piece of content is the most effective. Both Facebook and Netflix have employed A/B testing to some extent or another. With the sheer scale of Internet users in the modern age, design changes have to be data-driven. Without this understanding, networks risk alienating or disenchanting their users.