Opening Links

I had a discussion today about how to open external links on a website. The question is, do you open external links in the same browser or do you open them in a new browser window?

I have to admit I hate it when websites open links in new windows. I find it as annoying as websites that resize my web browser or play annoying music in the background of the website. It is not in the best interest of your user to force a link to open in a new window. If you absolutely must open a link in a new window clearly mark the link as opening in a new window so users have some advance warning before they click the link.

Remember that ultimately users are in charge. If they prefer to open links in new windows they have the ability to do so by using either a right click on the link and choosing new window/tab or by clicking the link with their scroll wheel. There are still many users out there that are not using Internet Explorer 7 or Firefox 2 and don’t have tabbed browsing. Don’t force new windows on to your users, or you might not have them as users for long.

I open this up to you now. Should you or should you not open links in new windows?

Categories: web-programming