The Death Of The Underline


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On March 13th this year, Google removed the underlined links from its search results. Without wishing to be too melodramatic, it could be said that this signalled the end of an era for the web. Previously, it was accepted practice that for ease of identification links should not only be underlined, but they should always use default link colours - blue for unvisited sites, purple for visited ones. This had obvious advantages for colourblind web users who have difficulty in distinguishing between red and green.

It has now been decided that this style is clumsy and old-fashioned, and interferes with the readability of shorter sentences on smaller displays. Non-underlined links are more readable and create an overall cleaner look.

 

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Opinion is divided as to whether this change is welcome, and should be adopted as standard practice for web developers. Non-underlined links appear to be mostly in blue, but this colour does not stand out particularly well against black or dark grey, the most popular colours for web text. If you are relying on colour alone to identify links, then contrast is absolutely imperative. Another concern is that the average web developer may see Google dropping underlines as a reason to do the same on their own projects, without necessarily the same context that applies to Google searches. For example, a blog post article may have lots of links throughout the content, but this cannot be compared with the organisation of content that you see on a Google search results page. Also the blog post may not have a colour scheme that makes it appropriate for the underlines to be removed, without losing the readability of links.

What this means is that if you propose to remove underlines from links on web pages or blogs, then the overall design is important. If you want help to update your website design to bring it into the 21st century, then why not speak to the Attitude Design team today.