Google Faces Backlash for Testing New Black Navigation Bar

For the past month, the search giant has been rolling out a small design change that users first thought was just a site bug or glitch


Google is testing a new black navigation bar that links out to its various features and properties. This was first spotted about a month ago, but was first written off as a bug or glitch. This can't actually be the direction that Google is considering moving in, some close watchers of the search giant thought. Look at how the black clashes with all of the other Google colors.

"For some reason, the navigation bar displayed at the top of Google's 'connected accounts' page is special," the blog Google Operating System wrote. "The bar has a black background and grey links. Hopefully, this is just a bug and not a redesigned navigation bar."

Screenshots of the new navigation bar have since appeared on at least three different unofficial Google blogs, confirming that the company is in fact testing out the proposed interface change with users.

The reaction, though, has been negative across the board. "There are some complaints from daily Google users that the black bar looks wrong," Barry Schwartz wrote at the Search Engine Roundtable. "Even worse, those that customize their Google home page find the new black bar to completely ruin their custom Google home page."

So why is Google still proceeding? The company tests out many new interfaces and colors throughout the year, trying them out on a sample set of users and watching for reactions and asking for feedback. This could just be part of those tests. Google could also be looking to save a bit of money. A black navigation bar seems like a small change to make if the end-goal is just about aesthetics, but consider Blackle, the Google-powered search that uses a black background instead of white. When the site debuted a few years ago, calculations suggested that a Black Google would save thousands of Megawatt-hours every year as an all-white Web page uses about 15 more watts to display than an all-black Web page. And that's when Google was running about 200 million search queries per day, a number that has since grown considerably.

Image: Google.