Leaving Las Vegas...I mean the website site.

2 Oct 2009 - 9:55am
4 years ago
12 replies
447 reads
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

>
> [...] and I have learned that when you have a link that is
> internal you have that link open within the same window. On the other
> hand, I was taught that any link that you have that is a reference to
> an external website you should have the link open in an external
> window or tab if the user has that set up.

This practice has been debated for years. There are pros and cons to either
solution, and like every "rule", there are exceptions even if the practice
works well for you. The context, as usual, matters most. The best bet is to
come up with a standard for your site and then keep your eye out for
exceptions.

The usability of window management is always a concern, and until there's a
"target=_tab" attribute built into HTML and into every browser, and likely
even beyond that point, this will continue being a source of contention.

Comments

2 Oct 2009 - 10:07am
bminihan
2007

Just wishful thinking...wouldn't it be nice to say target="_iphone" or
target="_pda" or target="_maps"?

Bryan Minihan

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Robert
Hoekman Jr
Sent: Friday, October 02, 2009 10:55 AM
To: Brian
Cc: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Leaving Las Vegas...I mean the website site.

The usability of window management is always a concern, and until there's a
"target=_tab" attribute built into HTML and into every browser, and likely
even beyond that point, this will continue being a source of contention.

2 Oct 2009 - 10:25am
John Yuda
2009

Personally, I tend to get really irritated when a site tries to force
behavior on me like that. If I want to keep their page open and
follow the link in a new window or tab, I'll do that. Otherwise,
stop cluttering up my desktop.

I generally try to avoid impressing my personal preference onto
users, but this is one case where I simply cannot. That said, since
it is always possible for a user to open a page in a new tab or
window but not possible to suppress this behavior if they don't want
it, I think avoiding "target=_blank" is the better way to go anyway.

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5 Oct 2009 - 4:15am
Anonymous

Some excellent write-up on the matter on 456 Berea Street' site;
http://www.456bereastreet.com/archive/200603/the_target_attribute_and_opening_new_windows/

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5 Oct 2009 - 4:11am
Anonymous

I agree with John that it is up to the user to decide what the
behaviour of an anchor should be. This is exactly why the target
attribute has been taken out of the xhtml specs and any page
including a target attribute will cause errors when validating.

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5 Oct 2009 - 9:40am
Anonymous

I completely agree with you guys from a user end but from a marketing
and business perspective why would you drive business away from your
site? You have a link that goes to a new site, the user clicks on
that link and goes to another site, then another, and then another
possibly opening another window, then even another and before you
know it you are asking the user to use the browsers back button or
memory to navigate back you your site.

I am coming at this purely from what I have been asked to do from the
business side of things but in the end I guess I have changed the way
I browse because of this. I browse in a tab environment and like it.
I like having all external sites open in other tabs or windows. To
have a blog talking about "the 10 best examples navigation" and all
of a sudden I click on the first example and I am not on the website
anymore but on the examples website, seems like mismanagement of user
experience and I know I am not alone. I know this is a debate and it
has been debated for a long time.

Just try this, go to this page and read the article and try to
compare the examples, while reading the article at the same time:

http://www.uxbooth.com/blog/tabbed-navigation-and-what-makes-it-useful/

Now the above example should not be too hard because there are only 4
examples and it is a short blog but you get my point because it is
impossible unless you open all the examples up yourself in new
windows/tabs.

Does nobody agree with me? Am I the only person who likes to compare
and contrast examples that are fed to me like this as I read a blog.
Am I really that ADD where I need to jump back and forth between what
I am doing or does this make sense to anyone else?

Brian Durkin
# company {nickelodeon:parentsconnect.com;}
# company .job {developer:web-monkey;}

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5 Oct 2009 - 9:45am
Anonymous

P.S. I think this firefox add-on might be helping me with this problem
I have with my browsing issues anyway. I think it was meant for the
ADD browser like myself.

http://grabjuice.com/

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5 Oct 2009 - 10:52am
Anonymous

On Mon, Oct 5, 2009 at 3:40 AM, Brian <brianjdurkin at gmail.com> wrote:

> I completely agree with you guys from a user end but from a marketing
> and business perspective why would you drive business away from your
> site?
>

This viewpoint is common, but it's easy to counter. Holding people captive
on your site will annoy them, which is not good for marketing or business.

I usually point out that if they want to get back to your site, they already
have a variety of options available: they can choose to open a link in a new
window/tab, bookmark your site before clicking, or trudge back through
history to find you.

Will Sansbury

5 Oct 2009 - 11:17pm
Kim Burgess
2009

The target="_blank" debate is an interesting one. Initially I
stopped using it as it wasn't included in the core XHTML 1.1
(although it can be added as module). Recently I've considered the
appropriateness of its use a lot more and settled on utilizing
unobtrusive JavaScript (JS) to give anchors which posses a "rel"
attribute with a value of "external" a behaviour which causes them
to open up in a fresh window. I'll also utilize JS append a small
graphic to the link that signifies it will open a new window and
append "(opens in a new window)" to the title attribute to give the
user some extra info in their tool-tip.

The nice thing about this method is that if the user's browser has
JS support active this additional behaviour and information will be
added, and if they don't they still have a link that acts nicely and
has the "rel" attribute defined in a meaningful way. By quickly
glancing at a link (or hovering over it to show the tool-tip) they
are alerted to the fact that it will open in a new window. It is also
very easy to allow users to disable this behaviour through some form
of preferences (either session or account).

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6 Oct 2009 - 10:28am
Adrian Howard
2005

On 5 Oct 2009, at 21:17, Kim Burgess wrote:

> The target="_blank" debate is an interesting one. Initially I
> stopped using it as it wasn't included in the core XHTML 1.1
> (although it can be added as module). Recently I've considered the
> appropriateness of its use a lot more and settled on utilizing
> unobtrusive JavaScript (JS) to give anchors which posses a "rel"
> attribute with a value of "external" a behaviour which causes them
> to open up in a fresh window. I'll also utilize JS append a small
> graphic to the link that signifies it will open a new window and
> append "(opens in a new window)" to the title attribute to give the
> user some extra info in their tool-tip.
[snip]

I've never done a usability test where having external links open in
new windows has had a positive effect (outside of small informational
popups and comparisons where separate windows help.). At best it seems
to have no negative effect. At worst it causes annoyance and/or
confusion.

I've never looked at any web site logs where switching links to/from
opening in new windows has made any difference to the users length of
time on site, number of conversions, etc.

So - while doing this is obviously an improvement on surprising the
user with a new window - does it make it better than leaving them in
the same window? If not, why do we do it? Just to avoid the discussion
with the client on why it's not a good idea? :-)

Have other peoples experiences been different?

Cheers,

Adrian
--
http://quietstars.com - twitter.com/adrianh - delicious.com/adrianh

6 Oct 2009 - 2:15pm
Anonymous

Kim,
I actually have used rel="external" and have used a js file to load a js function that handles a ie hack but that's about it. You have one to "be nice" and tell the user what is about to happen? I love it! It shows the user a little graphic telling them this link will open in a new window with text to go along? I need to start doing this and I need to slap myself on the wrist every time I don't or at least don't suggest it. You make the web a better place and I think this was just the karmic answer I was looking for. :)

6 Oct 2009 - 7:45pm
Kim Burgess
2009

Not sure about making it a better place.. I try. I at least make it a
bigger place :).

I've had a few people email me asking for a code example so I
thought I'd post the response here. If anyone is interested you can
see the script in action at http://www.kimburgess.info. The
JavaScript that handles the link augmentation is on line 37 of
http://www.kimburgess.info/scripts/dev/kimburgess.js. It's commented
but if you've got any questions don't be afraid to ask.

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10 Oct 2009 - 9:08am
Uidude
2009

Hello Brian

Let me answer using examples. Consider links that you may see in your
gmail message (I notice you have one). They open a new tab or new
window unlike gmail interface's own navigation links. There is a
login session, and it so requires that the user is checking the
emails and would always like to get back to the email window after
navigating/ getting far to a different page. Hence it is context
based and how your users, a majority of them prefer.

If it is a link in a blog page, and you are using intriguing links,
consider what Jhon had said. Leave the choice to the user, and as
everyone will learn through experience interacting with the web,
eventually users can decide how and when they want to view a link,
either same page or new page.

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