Do you force links into new windows?

Posted in Social networking, Technology

This is a usability beef of mine. I think there is a general disagreement about which linking method is better: in-window or new window.

On the one hand, if you open a link in the same window, you have the whole ‘need to go back’ phenomenon, and that’s not something a web owner wants to deal with. Too much fall off.

On the other hand, if you open a link into a new window, you can frustrate people, like me. It’s not obvious upon hover that a link will or will not open into a new window, and I personally hate it. I use tabs, not windows. Sometimes I don’t want to go back. And if I have to wait for another window to open in order to then close it to minimize screen clutter, I won’t be happy.

Here is another reason why I don’t think you should force links into new windows: they are called tabs. If I want to stay on a site, I simply open a link into a new tab. Simple as that.

I think people who continue to use ‘open in new window’ links are selfish ‘traffic whores’, excuse the term. These people are incredibly afraid of losing their traffic, hoping people will instead dig around more if their window stays open. I just get pissed off.

What do you think? Are there other pros & cons to this discussion?

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5 Responses to “Do you force links into new windows?”

  1. Laura says:

    Heh, well, I guess you can never make everyone happy! I always set my links to open in a new window, because I can’t stand it when I lose the window I’m in when I click on a link. So I always felt like I was doing the most user-friendly thing by setting it that way! For me it has absolutely nothing to do with traffic. I’ve already got the traffic if they’re clicking on a link at my site. I just know it bugs me to lose the window and have to go back, so I try to alleviate that problem for others. I don’t use tabs though.

  2. GetSheila says:

    Another con of opening links in a new window is that it is not the disabled person’s friend. People with mobility impairments have to work to close an unwanted new window. People with low-vision may have the screen zoomed to another area and not even know a new window has opened. For people who are blind, only the most recent versions of screen reader software gives any indication that a new window has been opened. Meanwhile, the Back button is always there, it doesn’t move around, and it always does the same thing. (Source: 2006 BlogHer. Her related post is here:

    I think Tabs are still pretty new to some people so hopefully they will abandon the ‘open in new window’ thing once using Tabs becomes mainstream.

  3. Vince Williams says:

    I can’t imagine why people don’t use tabs.

    I especially like the ‘tab mix plus’ options add-on (I’m still used to saying extension, but ‘add-on’ has only two syllables, so in the interest of economy of expression…) in Firefox.

  4. I have for the most part on my sites been using the open a second window or the target=”_blank” mentality.

    However, in light of the more recent popularity of Firefox and the authors reminding me of the fact that either in Firefox or the new IE you can use tabs to open links from a page I think that I might change how mine are setup.

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