This is a web usability question that concerns you, the people who read my blog, and also those who author their own blogs / websites.
Cat, at Creative Latitude, and I have been wondering (as was Darren at Problogger some time back) about how we present our external hyperlinks to you. When you leave our sites by clicking a link we’ve endorsed, should the new site open in a new window / tab, or would you prefer to stay inside the browser window you’re currently using?
I wasn’t aware that it could be such a bone of contention for some people, until I went back to read the comments left on Problogger. It seems that some people actually get angry when a website takes control of their browser by opening a new tab, and of course that’s not what I want here. Cat fought on the side of the
‘same window’ ‘new window’ campaign a couple of years back, although in the end gave up.
When I add a link to a blog post, there are two or three extra tags I add:
- title=”link title here” (this helps with search engine optimisation)
- target=”new” (this opens the link in a new browser tab or window)
- rel=”nofollow” (this prevents search engines from following links to possibly bad neighbourhoods)
I rarely add the third tag (nofollow), except when I’m not sure I should be endorsing the referenced site. Google, for instance, place certain sites in ‘bad neighbourhoods’, and it’s possible that by linking to those sites, without adding the ‘nofollow’ tag, that Google won’t trust your content.
From an accessibility standpoint, using the target=”new” tag breaks the ‘back’ button. Webnauts.net tell us to avoid forcing links to open in a new window, as this can be disorientating for those who don’t know what happened.
Of course people can also manually choose to open links in a new window or tab, but this is one extra step that I previously thought it would be better to remove. This is where you come in.
What do you think?
I’m interested to know how you prefer links to open.
New window? Same window? Why do you prefer one over the other?
Article image courtesy of The Family Handyman
Update: 30 January 2008
With over 70 comments left inside 24 hours, this is clearly a topic you feel strongly about, on both sides of the debate.
I’ve arrived at the conclusion that I’ll no longer add the target=”new” tag to my site links. Indeed I’ve back-tracked and completely removed them from my new blog, Logo Design Love (opens in the same window). Thank you very much to everyone who has taken the time to leave your thoughts. I’ve learned a thing or two in the process.