One Mom’s Journey from Fat to Skinny to Confident


Poll: Links Opening New Windows

19 Comments 1537 views

I’m not sure if you guys know but my background is in Instructional Technology. I earned my Masters almost 10 years ago (HOLY CRAP I’m OLD) and have been fascinated by web and multimedia usability ever since. I read books like Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, Designing Web Usability and Homepage Usability: 50 Websites Deconstructed. (go ahead… say it… GEEK!)

Anyway, I make decision on my sites based on what I learned in books like these and my own thoughts on the subject of web design and usability. So when I received this comment and others like in on my weight loss blog I became intrigued.

I know this is piddly, but could you make it to where the clickable links open in a new window rather than redirect?

See, my take on opening a new window is simple… let the user decide. Links are what make the web go ’round. If everyone made an external link to their site open in a new window surfing would be annoying and, for me anyway, unbearable. Of course, this is my opinion but I’m not alone…

Opening up new browser windows is like a vacuum cleaner sales person who starts a visit by emptying an ash tray on the customer’s carpet. Don’t pollute my screen with any more windows, thanks (particularly since current operating systems have miserable window management). If I want a new window, I will open it myself!
-Jakob Nielsen (from The Top Ten Web Design Mistakes of 1999)

Now I realize that quote is from 1999 and since we already came to the conclusion that I’m OLD, maybe my thoughts are outdated. All I know is when I surf the web I want to decide when a new window (or tab) gets opened and when a web designer (or blogger) makes that choice for me I get annoyed.

I’d love you thoughts on the subject! Please respond to the poll below and leave your own theories on opening new windows in the comments. Maybe I’ll stand corrected. Lord knows I’m been wrong before. :)


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I’d love to hear your story or thoughts on mine.

However, to prevent the massive amounts of spam I was receiving I have turned off comments on any post older than 5 days old. If you'd like to leave me a note regarding this post or anything really try me on twitter (@RoniNoone,) my Facebook page, or even IG (@RoniNoone) I'm so sorry for the inconvenience. I never thought I'd have to do this but it's gotten way out of hand and comment management has become simply too time consuming to manage.


There are 19 comments so far.

    I design too and I learned that you NEVER force a user’s browser to do something that they have not told it to do: no autoplay music, no autoplay video, no opening links in new windows.


    February 20, 2009

    YES! My thoughts too. I HATE autoplay.


    February 20, 2009

    This is interesting. I have no design background and have always set up my links to open in a new window, so the user could see the original post AND the link. Honestly it never even occurred to me that the new window approach might annoy people, it certainly doesn’t bother me. I’ve always seen it as giving the reader a comprehensive, big picture view. Guess I need to re-think that now!!

    I think most people don’t think about how automatic things like these can trip up a person’s computer. If you have an older browser or computer, having all of these things happening at once can cause problems. And if it causes a problem, you will probably lose a visitor.


    February 20, 2009

    I’m all about the new window! I use Firefox though, so it’s just another tab, not a another window so that never bugs me – but I could see how users might be “bothered” :)

    And you are NOT old! :)


    February 20, 2009

    Before Mozilla and tabs I preferred to either have them open in the same window or decide for myself. 10 instances of IE is never EVER a good thing if ya ask me.

    Nowadays I actually get irritated when externals Don’t open in a new tab. I’ve got 7 going right now and I’m using them all!

    Krista S.

    February 20, 2009

    I *hate* things opening up in a new window, but a new TAB is where it’s at! Links that just redirect to the page are annoying, personally and I always think that the person who made them just didn’t know how to code it properly to open in a new tab. I had no idea that some people don’t like new tabs! LOL I must be living in a bubble. Ahaha.


    February 20, 2009

    I use Firefox, so I like things opening in a new tab. So, on certain websites I just know to right click and open in new tab. When I read your posts and you have a few links I just open them in new tabs and browse through them when I’m done reading your post.


    February 20, 2009

    I prefer it when the link opens in a new tab. I use Firefox (maybe IE does this too now?), so almost any link “programmed” to open in a new window simply opens up a new tab on my already open browser. I like this because I’m not lead away from the source material I was originally reading.

    The web can be sensory overload and I’ll often forget where I originally clicked on a link in the first place if I don’t still have the original article open in a tab in front of me.


    February 20, 2009

    GEEK! Just kidding. Steve Krug is one of my favorite usability authors. Speaking of usability, yesterday I was observing a usability test of a web application I developed and an older woman (65-74) must have said about 4 times how she didn’t understand why certain pages weren’t opening up in a new window (because ‘her’ internet does that). The web app I’m developing is for the government, a branch which presently doesn’t allow us to spawn new window (without profusely warning the user). Personally, I right click everything and open it in a new tab. Since discovering tabs, I hate multiple browser windows.

    Thanks for creating this blog – it’s a fun read!

    Lisa Brown

    February 20, 2009

    While I like to decide for myself, and know how to right-click to do it, I can see why someone would complain. They are reading YOUR blog. They don’t want to get sidetracked into some other site and forget about you. It’s a compliment to your site that they don’t want to leave it to read something you recommend.


    February 20, 2009

    From Lisa Brown:
    While I like to decide for myself, and know how to right-click to do it, I can see why someone would complain. They are reading YOUR blog. They don’t want to get sidetracked into some other site and forget about you. It’s a compliment to your site that they don’t want to leave it to read something you recommend.

    Hi–I’m the one who asked about a new window. I honestly had no clue about the right click thing–and I REALLY didn’t want to come off as “complaining.” Please forgive my ignorance :) But what Lisa wrote about my not wanting to get sidetracked off your blog is EXACTLY right. That’s what I was trying to say and failed miserably!!!!!!


    February 20, 2009

    Brainne – Nothing to forgive! I love that you had the guts to ask and now look at the awesome discussion we’ve had around it! :)

    and thanks so much for the compliment!


    February 21, 2009

    I voted “Who cares, I decide by right clicking” because I never know what someone has done with the link and after having new windows open so much I’ve learned to not even try to just click the link! So, maybe my real answer is “open in the same window.” But, now that I use Firefox as my primary browser I actually like when a link opens a new tab…tabs feel so organized while extra windows seem so cluttered to me.


    February 21, 2009

    Im a right clicker all the way! I have everything open up in a new tab because i have having different windows all over the place.. sometimes you cant even see which tab has what on it since i have so many open.. I make my way through eventually but it makes me feel kind of organized.. I pay do my bills using different tabs also.. i open up as many tabs as i need.. go to the website.. log in.. pay.. calculate.. sign off.. Again tabs just make me feel organized lol


    February 21, 2009

    Actually, same window or new window really is relavant to where the link is and if I have more to read on the website its on. For example, if you are putting a link in the middle of an article as a reference point to what you’re writing about I’d like the link to open in a second window so I can look at it, and if I want to review it more detail ‘after’ I finish reading your post. I prefer it this way in these cases because I have had situations where the back button causes problems, or because I find it equally annoying to go back to a site and find the place where I left off.

    On the other hand, if the link is a reference at the end of a post where I don’t need to come back to finish reading, then the same window is prefered. Depending on the day and my mood, sometimes I won’t bother going back to the prior site to finish reading if a link opens in the same window.

    Maybe everyone doesn’t know how to open a link in a new window. This is something I know, and have found myself quite often right clicking on the link and clicking on ‘Open in New Window (or Tab)’. Then the choice mine for sure.


    February 22, 2009

    I never knew you could right click and decide! However, when I just tried it, I selected “open in new tab” and both the tab I was on and the new one opened to the site in the link. Not sure why that happened. I don’t like when a link just takes you to the new site instead of opening a new window because as someone else said, you may get distracted and forget to go back to the original site you were on.


    February 26, 2009

    interesting question…esp as i’m starting on my own blog, and i am putting in links. while i personally right click almost all of the time for a new window or tab, i do that because i am not always finished with the site that i’m on. and as i’m putting links into my own blog, i have it set to open in a new window, probably because i like opening links in a separate location than what i’m currently reading. it’s like lisa & brianne said – i am not always ready to leave a site, but do want to open a link. make sense? i feel like i’m rambling w/jumbled thoughts…

    Laura Brandon

    March 5, 2009

    The reason I make all my links open in a new window (when I remember) is because if I’m looking at a blog and I click on a link and it opens in the same window, I will get all engrossed in whatever I was looking at, and I will forget where it came from or what I was doing. That’s why I prefer new windows, but I never considered the fact that other people might not like them! There I go projecting again!