Text has background, envelope, whitespace (leading, kerning, etc.), font, outline, fill (and probably other general properties too). It's not A/B testing but I could see engineers iterating over variations - should the envelope follow the curves of the text or be a box or blob, etc.. All spacing, be it kerning or border-width can be iterated over, colours too - indeed thinking of this makes me want to write an Inkscape plugin to help in font choice.
You can level your objection again but I don't think one would call thinking what shape an outline could be "design" per se. Indeed if you're just presenting alternatives to a user and looking for the one with the best feedback I think you arguably have done away with a design stage.
And I'm sure if you were a little more clever you could find ways to do a similar test on normal google maps users without them knowing it.
Not at all obvious, but it's there.
Can you help me understand why it's wrong?
Examples : world projection (Mercator, useless), lack of metadata (dates of the images ?), choice of labels at medium scale (especially with the 'Relief' maps).
Such discrepancy between good graphical precision, esthetics and geographical imprecision, lack of quality information are misleading a large part of the public.
I know I've used it, to find, research and understand the layout of, Actual Locations on Earth, more than once. I never even stopped to think about the projection.
It would be interesting to hear what you feel would be different in the end-user experience if the projection was changed.
De-zoom and look at the apparent continent sizes, it's just horrible. Half of emerged lands in antarctica ? Groenland the size of Africa ? Think about children exposed to those maps before a good atlas is showed to them.
I co-wrote a paper about this topic, but it's in french :
A technical choice (summary : it's easier to have perpendicular parallels and meridians) has prevailed upon a geographical choice. It's not very complicated to link the projection to the scale of the view, all serious geographical internet portals are doing so (IGN, Ordnance Survey, etc.)
This is so general that it practically means nothing
A lossy audio compression algorithm relies on quirks of human hearing. Those who designed it used their precise understanding of how human hearing works. How would you go about designing a lossy audio compression algorithm without being allowed to learn anything about human hearing?
I believe it would be very much impossible. Humans have no intuitive understanding of the details of human hearing and there are an huge amount of possible ways of reducing the size of an audio file (like throwing away every second bit). There is no possible way you can A/B test all the possible ways and humans have no intuitive understanding of the details of hearing. You can’t intuitively decrease the search space. Aethstetics don’t help you, an understanding of how humans actually work is necessary.
Not everything is like lossy audio compression but I believe there are parallels. Aethstetics do sometimes help you decrease the search space and A/B tests get you the rest of the way but my suspicion is that a true understanding of how humans actually work would always be preferable.