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  1. #51
    SitePoint Wizard megamanXplosion's Avatar
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    But doesn't it look just like the big box which was there before, just with different content? In Windows XP taskbar button stacking is on by default, so it's harder to see that new full-size window just popped up.
    I don't think it would take someone a long amount of time to realize that it's a new window. Even if they don't realize it at first, the back button will be disabled and then a message in their head should say "this was a new window." Of course, if this is the first or second time encountering a new window then they might not realize it; however, if they already have multiple browser windows open (which is the only way for button-stacking to occur) then they should have a good idea of how new windows work and should be able to identify if a window is new.

  2. #52
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    I find it very convenient to have a new window open if it is for a different website.

    What I find most un-user friendly is clicking a link on a long blog that opens in the same window then when you use the back button to go back to the rest of the article, it takes you back to the top of the page and you have to scroll down and try and find where you were up to.

  3. #53
    Andrew Arch
    SitePoint Community Guest
    A couple of comments on the accessibility of the solutions:
    1. the title in the first solution (1.a) should have a value of "SitePoint - opens in new window", other wise a creen reader user will just get "opens in new window" if they are set-up to read link title attributes.
    2. in solution three (1.c) (text and icon), the icon should have a blank/empty alt attribute.
    3. In the second solution (from Yahoo) it is important to have an alt attribute for the icon (eg "open in a new window") and to inlcude the icon within the link.

  4. #54
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    stevo99: If you, as a user, want to open a link in a new window... Go right ahead! You can right click on the link and choose "open link in new window", or depending on what browser and OS you use you can hold shift, ctrl or simular while clicking the link to make it open in a new window. Also, most browsers except IE will open the link in a new tab if you middle click it.

    The thing is that it should be your choise how the links should open, not the one who created the website.
    Simon Pieters

  5. #55
    Lachlan Hunt
    SitePoint Community Guest
    While I mostly agreed with the article for the first half, in that it is not a good idea to open a new window, at least without warning the user. However, there are some things you neglected to mention.

    1. Allowing the author to decide when a new window opens places some control, however small it may be, over the user's user agent. The decision about whether or not to open a new window should remain entirely up to the user.
    2. The use of the target attribute or even a javascript method to open a new window makes an unfounded assumption that the user's user agent is even configured to open new windows. Indeed, I have configured my user agent to never open an unrequested new window, but to instead always replace the current page, or at most a new tab in some circumstances.
    3. It is far more user friendly to let the user know what is being linked to so that the user may make an informed decision about whether a new window/tab should be opened.
    4. Many users, especially those that make use of tabbed browsing featuers, dislike new windows opening.

    Additionally, the use cases you provided for the acceptable use of new windows completely negates the entire message of the document, while also making several unreasonable assumptions about the way a user's user agent is configured.

    * The link is for a document, such as a PDF or Word file...

    This assumes that the user's system is configured to open the file within the browser itself, where as many may have configured their system to either launch the external application, externally, or to prompt with a save as dialog. In both cases, the user will end up with a new empty, and not to mention useless window.

    * The link is for a large image.

    In this case, it is far better to inform the user that the image is large, and perhaps recommend that the user open a new window/tab, but this still doesn't warant the act of forcing a new window.

    * The link is for a printable version of an article or Web page.

    The reason for this is essentially the same as for the large image. However, I should also point out that additional, printable documents are completely redundant, when in actual fact, all that is required is the user of a print stylesheet for the same document.

    Ideally, rather than ever forcing a new window, since doing so ultimately makes unreasonable assumptions about a users user agent because not all user agents even have new windows, such as handhelds, aural or tactile devices, and others may be configured to never open unrequested new windows. The best solution that will benefit all users is to inform the user about what is being linked to, not how it should be opened, so that the user may make an informed decision.

  6. #56
    SitePoint Zealot
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    Quote Originally Posted by megamanXplosion
    I don't think it would take someone a long amount of time to realize that it's a new window.
    It takes even less time if they asked for the new window themselves.

    Quote Originally Posted by jorigami
    Quote Originally Posted by megamanXplosion
    As long as everyone can browse the way they want, then good.
    Exactly. To override new window you need to do quite unintuitive drag-link-to-addressbar, to override link opening in the same window you need to use right-click which is much more used UI feature.
    Again, why are you forcing me to do unintuitive drag instead of common right-click?

    Show me just one usability report encouraging opening all external links in new window as I haven't seen any.

  7. #57
    SitePoint Member deluks's Avatar
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    Actually I don't see any reason for opening a link in a new window. As jorigami said it's quite ugly to open such a link in the same window. If a user really wants to have a link opened in a new window he can do that by apple+click, middle-click or what ever.
    And also if you think that it would be sensible to open a link in a new window (like your three examples) you actually force him. Maybe he got a good reason for opening such a link in the same window (for example he is just looking for this huge image and isn't interested in the rest of the page).
    In my opinion a besser solution would be to mark external links so everybody can decide whether he like it in a new window or not.

  8. #58
    neilrbradley@hotmail.com
    SitePoint Community Guest
    If you are navigating within within a website I agree that there is little point in opening a pop-up, except for when there is a super large image or similar needed to be downloaded.

    But when it comes to going to another site it's better to open in either a new window, or even better in a new tab!

  9. #59
    SitePoint Member
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    Anyone enjoy the irony that the first active hyperlink in this story...open's a new window?

  10. #60
    I am obstructing justice. bronze trophy fatnewt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stonercreek
    Anyone enjoy the irony that the first active hyperlink in this story...open's a new window?
    It would appear that the thoughts of that particular writer do not necessarily reflect those expressed in SitePoint's policy.
    Colin Temple [twitter: @cailean]
    Web Analyst at Napkyn


  11. #61
    SitePoint Enthusiast
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    I agree with the article for the most part. I use target="_blank" from time to time if the situation seems to warrant it. When it comes to popups, I love some as much as I hate others. If it's an advertising popup, I never see them due to FireFox's blocking feature. But, if it's an image or form instructions, a popup simply makes sense since you get the information without leaving the page you're using at the time.

    I'd also like to point out that the "if they want a new window they'll ask for it" argument isn't necessarily correct thinking. How many people do you know who realize they can open a link in a new window? Sometimes, a well-used target="_blank" can be a good service to the visitor and I believe it's up to the site designer to decide when that will be a good service and when it won't be. Actually I would reverse the statement referenced above: "If your visitors don't want a new window, they'll take measures to prevent one from opening." These measures would normally involve using a browser that permits disabling of new windows. Web developers are likely to be the only people who take such measures, and I've never met anyone but web developers who hate new windows anyway.

  12. #62
    I am obstructing justice. bronze trophy fatnewt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MatthewHSE
    "If your visitors don't want a new window, they'll take measures to prevent one from opening." These measures would normally involve using a browser that permits disabling of new windows. Web developers are likely to be the only people who take such measures, and I've never met anyone but web developers who hate new windows anyway.
    It's easier to open a new window than to prevent one from being opened.

    Some people don't realize that this is a different Window. Some people don't understand why "Back" doesn't work anymore.

    Some screen readers can be frustrating to use when new windows come into play.

    Never met someone else who hated new windows? Perhaps you need to get out more. Or, more likely, perhaps you know plenty of them, but you've never talked to these people about new windows opening. Why would you? Unless you're over someone's shoulder watching them become frustrated with a suprise window, the discussion probably doesn't come up a whole lot.

    My mother, who doesn't have that much Web experience and is certainly not technical, once asked me how to stop new windows from opening because they annoyed her. Now, my mom is a smart person, and she learns quickly. She's actually now a Firefox user (I converted her) and is much more comfortable browsing now because of the control it gives her. She's still not technical, and is definitely not a Web developer. She's just someone who uses the Web for information, research and e-mail, and wants control of her own browsing experience.

    So if you need an example of a non-technical user who hates new windows and doesn't (or didn't) know how to get around them, that's one of many.
    Colin Temple [twitter: @cailean]
    Web Analyst at Napkyn


  13. #63
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    I think that Sitepoint should read this article and stop opening advertising to a new windows after user clicks a link. I understand you need to advertise your (great) books, but for God's sake... Don't abuse JavaScript...and don't open any new windows!

    Great article by the way.

  14. #64
    ups
    SitePoint Community Guest
    How ironic, I wanted to rate the article and wham! A new window as soon as I click the option!

    The article is very nice. Even though I'm familiar with the points, its still worth reading.

    This is my first visit to the site, so atleast I'm not rating any articles... unless they "fix" the new window "bug".

  15. #65
    SitePoint Guru OfficeOfTheLaw's Avatar
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    Great article, definately forwarded to my co-workers, since my company seems to be slap happy with the popups (i.e. "the site you are about to visit is an external site and does not reflect the views or bleh bleh of Foo Inc.").

    I think sitepoint could learn a little from this too... I clicked on the article to read it and got a popup, and got another new window when I clicked to rank the article! How ironic!

  16. #66
    Ray Paseur
    SitePoint Community Guest
    I agree with the concepts of the article. I also believe that PDF files, large audio files, etc. may best be opened in new windows. It's quite annoying to click a link and get a mind-numbing delay while a huge file loads. So in addition to providing a visual and text indicator that there is a new window, we like to include the file size and an indication of the file type in each of our links.

  17. #67
    I am obstructing justice. bronze trophy fatnewt's Avatar
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    Off Topic:

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray Paseur
    we like to include the file size and an indication of the file type in each of our links.
    Aside from new windows, this is good practice. Having a PDF or multimedia presentation pop up when you're expecting a Web page is never good.

    I hate looking at PDFs online. When I'm suprised with one, I often lose interest and close the window completely, then go find another site that has what I'm looking for.
    Colin Temple [twitter: @cailean]
    Web Analyst at Napkyn


  18. #68
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    The article is interesting but is new windows a REAL problem or just a hypothesis?

    I lack figures from usability-testing to back it up..and putting icons or txt-info to "warn" about a new window really doesnt change much does it ? The usablity problems will still be the same except that the browser doesnt get surprised by the new window ( but IMHO any browsers are used to new windows anyway... )

    Any stats or numbers to back up the hypothesis of new windows as a real usability problem, Neil ?


  19. #69
    Forensic SEO Consultant Webnauts's Avatar
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    Thumbs up On topic article

    Something I found today, which you might would like to have a look at.

    To open a new window or not?
    5 reasons to re-consider this web technique
    http://www.tiffanybbrown.com/article...article.php/58

  20. #70
    thorvandahl
    SitePoint Community Guest
    Some good points, but still this is a matter of personal oppinion rather than an official guideline (as official as it may sound with all references). The web is no longer a quaint old club, people should be used to seeing new windows open when clicking on an outside link.

  21. #71
    SitePoint Evangelist Chromate222's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thorvandahl
    this is a matter of personal oppinion rather than an official guideline
    I completely agree. Sometimes it just feels natural for a link to open in a new window. I would imagine that the majority of web users have actually come to expect an external link to open in a new window, and actually get disorientated / surprised when it doesn't.

    Example: I click a link to read an article on an external site. Something of interest catches my eye on that site and I decide to click and read that as well. In fact, I might want to read a number of things on the "external" site and end up quite deep in. But then, when I'm done, I want to return easily back to the original site. Hmm. How do I do it? Click the back button a number of times until I hit upon the page I want to be at (if I've read enough different pages, hoping I don't accidentally skip past it!).

    Example #2: I'm reading a long article / page and it references an external site. I visit the external site and then I click on the back button, only to find that the browser has positioned me back at the top of the page again and I have to search for where I left off.

    Wouldn't it be easier just to open the external site in a new window, perhaps of a slightly smaller size, so it's clear it is a new window. Then I can simply do my stuff on the external site and at the click of a single button, flip back to the original site when I'm ready to do so.

    Obviously (to us), the user can quite simply open the link in a new window by holding down a key and THEN clicking the link they want to open in a new window. But I would say that a good proportion of web users don't realise they can do that, or are not used to doing it. Isn't a good rule of design not to expect the user to have prior knowledge of how to navigate effectively? It should be naturally obvious how to navigate easily.

    And that's my point - sometimes it just makes good sense to open a link in a new window. I would rather assume my users also think it's a good choice, than to assume they know how to "press-click" into the new window.

    Obviously however, sometimes it's NOT a good choice to open a link in a new window. As designers we should be able to use good judgement as to when it's appropriate instead of completely ruling it out altogether.


  22. #72
    I am obstructing justice. bronze trophy fatnewt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jojn M
    The article is interesting but is new windows a REAL problem or just a hypothesis?
    I've seen it as a problem on many occasions with non-technical users. I myself dislike them when browsing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jojn M
    putting icons or txt-info to "warn" about a new window really doesnt change much does it ? The usablity problems will still be the same except that the browser doesnt get surprised by the new window
    This is a good point. A user may not want to open a new window but may want the information -- leaving no alternative. It's better than having no warning, but not ideal.
    Colin Temple [twitter: @cailean]
    Web Analyst at Napkyn


  23. #73
    I am obstructing justice. bronze trophy fatnewt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chromate222
    Obviously (to us), the user can quite simply open the link in a new window by holding down a key and THEN clicking the link they want to open in a new window. But I would say that a good proportion of web users don't realise they can do that, or are not used to doing it. Isn't a good rule of design not to expect the user to have prior knowledge of how to navigate effectively? It should be naturally obvious how to navigate easily.
    Perhaps... but along the same rationale, some users will be suprised, or may not want a new window. Firefox users, like myself and a rapidly growing number of people, may want to open the link in a new tab rather than a new window. (If the link uses the target attribute, that's not a problem. JavaScript pop-ups, however, often don't provide an option.)

    Fewer users know how to prevent a new window from opening than know how to open a new one. Most browsers make the "Open in a New Window" and "Create a New Window" options fairly accessible, but don't provide obvious ways to control a link that generates a new window by default.

    So your logic for creating a new window by default is flawed. You're suggesting you force your users into browsing patterns that you feel are most efficient based on your experience. But in doing so you remove the user's capacity to choose. Perhaps they don't know how to choose, but as you said, we shouldn't make any assumptions. If I were to come across your site, I may not want a new window. By forcing me into one, you've frustrated me.

    Also, don't forget those using screen readers and other assitive technologies, for whom new windows may be troublesome. A truly accessible site should take into consideration these technologies, as well as cognitive disabilities.
    Colin Temple [twitter: @cailean]
    Web Analyst at Napkyn


  24. #74
    SitePoint Evangelist Chromate222's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fatnewt
    Perhaps... but along the same rationale, some users will be suprised, or may not want a new window.
    Some might, but then it's hard to please absolutely everyone. And as I've explained, using normal links wont please everyone by a long stretch as a lot of people don't know how to simply open a link in a new window.

    Quote Originally Posted by fatnewt
    Most browsers make the "Open in a New Window" and "Create a New Window" options fairly accessible, but don't provide obvious ways to control a link that generates a new window by default.
    There's a reason for that Opening a link in a new window is often very desirable, which is the reason why this option is made so accessible. A link opening in a new window is not normally that much of a problem, which is why the option to prevent it from happening is not so accessible.

    Quote Originally Posted by fatnewt
    You're suggesting you force your users into browsing patterns that you feel are most efficient based on your experience.
    Can I add, not just in my experience. I'm not a usability expert, but I do have some usability testing background working on government sites. I have never come across any problems with users not wishing carefully selected links to open in new windows.

    Quote Originally Posted by fatnewt
    But in doing so you remove the user's capacity to choose. Perhaps they don't know how to choose, but as you said, we shouldn't make any assumptions.
    Well, we obviously have to make some assumptions in an attempt to please as many users as possible. The user has no capacity to choose if he or she doesn't know how to open a normal link in a new window in the first place. I try and cater for the majority without the exclusion of others, where possible.

    Say 40% of users know how to open a normal link in a new window. 60% don't. I believe that around 80% of users would like certain (not all!) external links to open in a new window. So therefore, if I use a normal link that doesn't automatically open a new window, a larger proportion of users will be upset than if I make the link open in a new window.

    However, if I try to satisfy the 40% of users that know how to open a link in a new window by using a normal link, I will likely aggravate an awful lot more people. A fair proportion of that 40% probably wouldn't mind it opening in the new window anyway.

    Of course those figures only represent assumptions on my part, but I don't think they're far wrong.

    Yes, I'm removing the capacity for a small fraction of users to choose, but on a larger scale I would probably be pleasing a far greater proportion of not so web savvy users.

    Also, don't forget those using screen readers and other assitive technologies, for whom new windows may be troublesome. A truly accessible site should take into consideration these technologies, as well as cognitive disabilities.
    This is a fair consideration. However, still not a reason to rule out links opening in a new window in every circumstance.


  25. #75
    JimS
    SitePoint Community Guest
    I believe it is appropriate to open a window when the link goes to a new site where the content is no longer under your control, as in a favorite links page or a reference page. The act of opening a new window can give the user that they are in a "new" space - and if you no longer control the content, they should know you are no longer the provider of the information.


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