Wednesday, November 08, 2006

reasons against opening links in a new window

Using target="_blank" in an html page means that it will not validate using the w3c standards. The w3c removed this command in strict html and strict xhtml due to:

  • Some browsers not supporting it. This is particularly true in pda's and mobile phones.

  • Most browsers now support tabbing

  • It should be up to the end user, not the website, to decide on how a link should be opened.

Whilst many websites still open external links in a new window, it is more and more becoming the industry standard to open links in the same window and allow the user to navigate back to the site because it has the information they're looking for.

Reasons against opening links in a new window include:

  1. The back button is the second most used navigation function (after hyperlinks, source: By opening a new window means that the user will not be able to navigate back to the original website.

  2. Unless warned, most web users expect a hyperlink to load in the current window and so could confuse. Novice users and visually impaired users might not realise that a new window has opened and might struggle to switch between windows.

  3. New windows make taskbars even more cluttered and difficult to use as multiple windows are left opened.

Most users feel that they should be able to choose for themselves whether a link opens in a new window.