External Links: Same Window or New Window?

Back in the mid-to-late ’90s, the general rule was never to pop a window on an external link. During the early 2000s, my company decided on a policy that opened a new window on any external links but not for internal links. The reasoning was that we didn’t want users to lose their place when we pointed to an additional resource on a topic.

It seems like today we are back to the 90s regarding external linking. Blogs almost never open a new window and most websites also seem to stay in the same window when opening external websites.

What’s your take on opening new browser windows – yes or no? If yes, in what circumstances? If no, why not?

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3 Responses

  • On the site I developed for my job, we chose not to open any links in a new window. Instead, we used link indicators to help inform our visitors when a link leads away from our Web site. That way, they can choose whether or not they want to open the link in a new window/tab.

  • admin

    Curtiss – do you offer them a link to new window or just note that the link is external?

  • We just note that the link is external. We don’t use targets on any of the links on our site. It’s possible there are still a handful of targets specified, because we didn’t catch them when we copied information from the old site, but for the most part, they’ve been completely removed from our links.

    We had to consider our audience before making any final decisions. In our case, we decided that our audience would get disoriented if links opened in a new window and the back button all of a sudden quit working.

    However, you also need to consider the future of valid, accessible code. Apparently, the target attribute is deprecated in the “strict” versions of HTML and XHTML code.

    Here are some interesting links on the subject:
    http://www.sitepoint.com/article/beware-opening-links-new-window/
    http://www.sitepoint.com/article/standards-compliant-world/
    http://www.useit.com/alertbox/990530.html

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