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Should you underline links? Google Doesn’t Anymore

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Screen shot 2014-04-14 at 11.23.46 AMIf you’ve performed a search on Google recently, you may have noticed something different about the search results. The major search engine recently made design improvements to its desktop search results. These changes rolled out on the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web.

Perhaps the most noticeable of the changes was the elimination of underlined links. Links to other sites are no longer underlined in the search results of the Internets leading search engine. Does this mean you should stop underlining links?

Web design standards are continually changing as the Internet evolves. As Google’s lead designer, Jon Wiley, pointed out while addressing the recent changes, underlined search links improved usability in the early days of the World Wide Web, but they’re no longer needed. Today’s Internet users no longer need such an overt visual cue to identify links on a web page.

Ultimately, the decision to underline links on your website comes down to aesthetic preference. You may decide to follow Google’s lead and eliminate the unnecessary underlines or you may prefer the traditional look of underlined links. Before you make any decisions, you should discuss this topic with your web designer. What works for one  web page may not work for another web page. Your goal should be to maximize your website’s usability.

Google also has increased the size of its search results titles and evened out line heights. Wiley feels that these changes have improved overall readability and created a more streamlined look. Your website may very well benefit from similar design changes.

Text size, line spacing and removing underlines can create a more streamlined look for sure. However, you still need to strike the right balance between appearance and usability. Talk to your web designer to see what will work best for your website.

What do you think of Google’s new changes? What can you do to improve the readability  and overall usability of your website?

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