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I work at a really small company making websites for a specific clientele, an older female audience.

My boss, also the lead Art Director, uses lots of different colors for links across an entire site. She's convinced that it makes information easier to parse, but not only is it really time consuming and obnoxious to write CSS for, it just looks bad. There will be 5 different link colors, all for the same link, with different hover states.

I'd like to explain how confusing and nonsensical this is with some usability articles, or use cases. We don't have any A/B testing cases or studies with this so I don't have any data to show her.

Anyone have any tried and true articles or design studies / post mortems, that they can recommend? Much obliged!

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    Thanks for your contribution to UXSE. Accessibility questions are always welcomed, and I think a lot depends on the colours chosen because if they are similar then the difference won't be worth the effort. On the other hand, if they are very different but used for the same link, then it is possible for users to think that they are different things. You don't need A/B testing to show this because user testing with the client/clientele is the best evidence. There are NNg articles on links that you can reference like this one: nngroup.com/articles/guidelines-for-visualizing-links – Michael Lai Feb 26 at 23:09
  • Thanks very much, I think this is exactly what I was looking for! – TwoLunch Feb 28 at 17:14
  • Tell her her artistic style is "gawdy" and "grotesque" and that while there are some avid lovers of those styles, generally people don't appreciate them when they interfere with information architecture. – straya Mar 2 at 3:43
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    Do you know that it is "confusing and nonsensical" for the users? If that's the case: As a professional you should be able to explain why this is the case. Or do you guess that it is "confusing and nonsensical" for the users? If this is the case: Are you looking for sources to support your gut feeling? That would be a bad idea. Your opinion is biased and so is any judgement of resources. But if you have the feeling multiple colors is a bad idea and you want to know if this is true and why, more context is needed. Can you tell a bit more about the situation and maybe add some images? – jazZRo Apr 30 at 10:10
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At smaller companies, I think that initially, multiple styles do end up being used across the platform, and it is great that you as a developer are noticing this and proactively thinking about this!

In my opinion, a way to convince the director would be to bring up the conversation about design systems and component library, which is basically a set of UX guidelines for components and interactions defined for your digital service/ platform, which have linked code blocks of react/ css in parallel. This makes it much easier for designers and developers to work together to build the product. I am sure the director would know about design systems, it is just a matter of starting the conversation. Here is an exhaustive list of companies that have their design systems public for anyone to refer to: https://adele.uxpin.com/

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Even though you should definitely be using actual user testing data to convince your boss, the next best alternative would be some internal testing. Often it is not hard to make a convincing argument that the internal users share many of the same characteristics as the end users.

I would also try to put an case for trying to address potential issues against known standards/guidelines/best practices by showing the cost to fix things after the product is shipped or goes live compared to addressing it beforehand.

Perhaps the most convincing argument is the lack of many sites that apply this type of styling to links, and there are also many articles and references that you will find on this subject, including:

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