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  1. #76
    I am obstructing justice. bronze trophy fatnewt's Avatar
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    Don't throw out statistics if you have no basis. I'm not disputing them, exactly, but you've quoted your 'belief' as your source.

    I wouldn't rule out new links in every circumstance. But I do feel that new window links are far too prevelant, and are seldom presented in a truly usable and universally accessible way. Limiting their use is the first step.
    Colin Temple [twitter: @cailean]
    Web Analyst at Napkyn


  2. #77
    SitePoint Evangelist Chromate222's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fatnewt
    Don't throw out statistics if you have no basis. I'm not disputing them, exactly, but you've quoted your 'belief' as your source.
    I was careful to make that clear in the post I only used them to illustrate a point really.

    Quote Originally Posted by fatnewt
    I wouldn't rule out new links in every circumstance. But I do feel that new window links are far too prevelant, and are seldom presented in a truly usable and universally accessible way. Limiting their use is the first step.
    Agreed! I think the real message is to excercise great care, rather than to rule them out altogether.


  3. #78
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    I would join Neil in having same-window as the default, unless you have a *really* good reason not to, e.g. launching a game or application where you also want the base site to persist.

    I'd add a 6th good reason: Increased likelihood of user closing the wrong window, when trying to tidy up the taskbar.

    Good article!

  4. #79
    SitePoint Enthusiast konky2000's Avatar
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    The various people I make sites for almost all share the belief that when a link refers to an external website it is expected that the link will open up a new window.

    In their eyes, it has become so expected that external links open up new windows, that it is bad usability if an external link does NOT open up a new window.

    It has been so hard for me to convince them otherwise, that I have just given up and use target="_blank" whenever a link refers to an external website.

  5. #80
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    Hi everyone,

    Been mooching around the forum for a while and decided it is time to make my mark.

    There was a thread on this subject on another forum (name withheld to protect the innocent) that stayed alive for quite a while. The main reason was the argument over the difference between a pop-up and a new window.

    I shall atempt to summarise:

    1. Pop-ups are regarded as adverts and invariably are closed automatically or a pop-up blocker is used. Pop-ups do not usually have all the browser chrome - no menu, no address bar, no icons. If you want to use a pop-up for a help file or whatever then tell the user: 'click here for help, link will open in a new window' (see note below).

    2. A 'new window' is where a whole new browser window that opens with a full suite of toolbars.

    3. Internal links are generally expected open in the same window.

    4. External links are generally expected to open in an external window but savvy users will right-click and open in a new tab. From a usability point of view, external links should be identified by a full URI (www.link.com). If you really want make things clear, put a note on the page: 'External links will open in a new window'.

    Note: The use of the words ' click here' has no doubt been discussed many times but my Dad wants to go onto a website and see a big red button that says 'click here to buy one of these'. He needs all the help he can get so I for one do not intend to alienate him.

  6. #81
    SitePoint Enthusiast etsuko's Avatar
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    The tabs do save a lot of surfers, but though the count of Firefox users are only 18Mil and still counting, I suppose we still need to take heed of those people still using Internet Explorer. :)

    Oh yeah, even if you used an icon, how many surfers do understand what they mean without having a 'Legeng' nearby? ;)

    Cheers.

  7. #82
    Steve
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    Is it really fair to expect the user to rely on the 'back' button if they have followed a link on my website to another external website?

    Once there they trawl around say ten pages and then spot another interesting link to another site.

    When their interest has waned and they get bored with the external link(s) and they want to come back to my site to carry on with their original line of enquiry should they then have to hit the back button 20-30 times ???

    We've all been there and done that. What's wrong with a new browser window if it is signposted. One click to close the window and they are back to my site again. We all win, they get the extra info, I get the returning visitor (I was going to say 'sticky website' - but that could be misinterpreted!).

  8. #83
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    This whole subject is pretty much moot to those with tabbed browsing capabilities, such as Firefox and Safari...

  9. #84
    marc
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    The article recommends opening documents -- PDF, etc. -- in new windows. This makes sense when the document is viewed in the browser with a plugin, but for those of us who prefer opening them in external programs, opening a new window for documents is a frustration: a person gets both a new (completely blank) window *and* the document open in the external application, requiring that both be closed to return to the original web page.

    It's worth remembering that bowsers allow users to choose for themselves where a link will open. CTRL- or right-click allows a person to choose from a menu that includes 'open in new window' or 'open in new tab'. On a Mac, cmd-click opens a link in a new window/tab; in Linux, middle-click does the same; I'd bet it works in Windows, too. Knowing how to do this is just part of learning the features of a browser.

    Thus, since there are ways for people to determine where links open, let them do it, just as you wouldn't force people *not* to open links in new windows if that's what they'd rather do. And finally, rather than worry about whether people will close the browser window inadvertantly, have faith that people will use their 'back' button instead, having just gone forward to view a document; again, it's part of knowing how to use a browser. Making choices for people (i.e., assuming they don't know what to do) just makes things worse for those who know what they want to do, and how to do it.

  10. #85
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    Marc,

    Agree in principle but still sitting on the fence a bit on the 'new window for external site issue'. Learning how to use a browser is part of the Internet learning process. If a visitor is unable to understand how the thing works then opening multiple windows will confuse then as well - I know my girlfriend keeps clicking the back button even when she does open a new window!

    As the new tab bit: not so good for the 99% of the world that still uses IE or (cringe) AOL.

  11. #86
    Non-Member Icheb's Avatar
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    Oh for crying out loud, there goes that "but newbies don't know better" argument again. Yeah, newbies don't know better because guess what, they are NEWBIES. They can't know better and have to learn it, just like with everything else in their life.
    If you want everything newbie proof, you have to send a support guy to the house of every person who just bought a new TV etc. and show them how it works. The buyer might not be able to read the manual, so you have to hold their hands.

  12. #87
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    Question

    At one time we were all newbies....and how did we learn? By making mistakes, banging our head against walls, and once in awhile calling our tech guru friends! If you help a butterfly hatch from its cocoon, it will never be able to fly.

    That philosophical crap out of the way...am I the only one in the entire world who likes to have external or "sidebar" links open in a new window? ESPECIALLY when it's a PDF or other type of document, I just hate it when I click a PDF link and it replaces the page I'm reading.

  13. #88
    Josiah
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    Great advice. A bit ironic, though. The links embedded in this article OPEN IN A NEW WINDOW!

  14. #89
    Teri
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    I find it interesting that in this very article there is a link that opens in a new window without "warning" text or an icon. (See reason 2 the link is usit.com).

  15. #90
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    Icheb,

    So is your point that we should never force a new window on a visitor, just let them learn for themselves how to do it?

    I don't personnally have a problem with that but I'm not sure that is what you mean by your argument.

  16. #91
    Non-Member Icheb's Avatar
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    Actually I mean the exact opposite, as stated in my previous post.

  17. #92
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    When I read your original post the first time round I must admit I misread your argument about it being the norm to open external links in new windows.

    I agree with you in principle on this point. Certainly visitors to forums (et al) will expect that to happen and I, by default, open in a new tab since this allows me to continue to read the thread while the new page is resolving.

    Internal inks however are a completley different kettle of fish. If I am navigating around a site I should be able use the back or forward buttons and the internal navigation (breadcrumbs/navbar) to work my way around. What I do not expect is to see new windows opening up everytime I click on a link, this destroys the expected navigation protocols. Note: I do not mean a pop-up when I say new window. A pop-up is be definition a new window, my meaning is a window with all the toolbars and chrome in place.

    There will always be occasions when these expected norms are violated because that is how a particular site is intended to be used but visitors to these sites will soon learn the nuances of the site and becomforatble with its use. If you don't like it then don't go there.

    So in this rather long winded way, I now understand and agree your point - please excuse my shattered synapses, busy trying to get to grips with with Myst IV at the moment.

    I did note that the link in your last post had a close this window button, but wasn't in fact a new window. Strange....

  18. #93
    Marty
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    "The back button is the second most used navigation function (after hyperlinks, source: useit.com), so resetting it is a big no-no."

    I take issue with this, and once again point to a longstanding pet peeve of mine. Surely the down-scroll is used almost as frequently as the back button, of not actually more. Why on earth the two are at opposite ends of the interface is beyond me. Will someone please put a back button on the right side of the status bar?

  19. #94
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    Marty,

    I began computing back when all you had was DOS and a keyboard. As a result I tend to use the keyboard to move around a document and rearly use the mouse to scroll around. As discussed earlier in the thread, I use it a part of the learning experience and tell those around me about the alternatives (who then find they can actually use the computer quicker than before).

    If you use the keyboard, you use both hands and reduce the threat of RSI. So for me, moving the back button would be detrimental...

  20. #95
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    You can use Alt+<left arrow> to go back.

    Most things can be done with the keyboard. Using the mouse wastes time if you know the keyboard shortcuts.

  21. #96
    SitePoint Wizard samsm's Avatar
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    Can anyone here think of a good reason why back button functionality doesn't work on new browser windows?

    In other words, a link opens in a new window. Why isn't the back button on that new window pre-loaded with the back button history from the old window?

    Seems to me like many of these useability issues are browser issues rather than webmaster issues.
    Using your unpaid time to add free content to SitePoint Pty Ltd's portfolio?

  22. #97
    gingham dress, army boots... silver trophy redux's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by samsm
    Can anyone here think of a good reason why back button functionality doesn't work on new browser windows?
    because that would make absolutely no sense, and could be even more confusing, and would negate the (debatable) need for opening a window in the first place.

    the only reasonable (following this logic) solution would be that once a user hits back in the new window, this window closes itself and brings its originating window to the front.

    Seems to me like many of these useability issues are browser issues rather than webmaster issues.
    no, webmasters / designers need to know about the specifics of browsers and work with them to create something that's usable. claiming that browsers should behave differently to make the designer's wishes right is...disingenious, imho.
    re·dux (adj.): brought back; returned. used postpositively
    [latin : re-, re- + dux, leader; see duke.]
    WaSP Accessibility Task Force Member
    splintered.co.uk | photographia.co.uk | redux.deviantart.com

  23. #98
    rdr6yz
    SitePoint Community Guest
    All his points hold merrit. The back button issue is a mute one, browser issue or webmaster issue is not a concern as you should never leave a site user to the mercy of the browser's back button. If you want them to go back.. provide a way, new window or not. I only open images or print pages in new windows and I make sure that all my windows can break out of frames should someone decide to try to incorperate my site into theirs.. not good practice as far as I'm concerned, but I digress.
    However, unless you clone the window (ctrl+n) then the history of a new window contains only the history of pages that window has viewed. As it should be. If I have three windows open browsing different topics.. I don't want the history of the windows compromised. That's why the back button wouldn't work.

  24. #99
    SitePoint Wizard samsm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by redux
    because that would make absolutely no sense, and could be even more confusing, and would negate the (debatable) need for opening a window in the first place.
    I suppose the amount of sense it makes is a matter of perception.

    My perception would be that the user gets what they expect, a working back button. The worst case scenario for that user is that they are confused by an extra window that has content they had visited previously. More likely, they will either appreciate it being there, close it with minimal annoyance, or end up not even thinking about it.

    So why open a new window, if it is essentially the same as the one that spawned it? Fair question! The advantage to opening links in a new window, as Steve related in post 82, is that hitting back more than a couple of times is confusing, and could even be difficult if a site they end up visiting utilizes a redirect that sends the user forward a page every time they hit back. I don't know if that's a good enough reason to make links open in a new window, but I can definitely see the perceived webmaster benefit.

    Of course, if you are across the board opposed to "forcing" users to open links in new windows, that begs the question: "why do browsers allow webmasters to force people to open pages in new windows?". It's another browser issue. Ok, now THAT was disingenuous! I admit that on a pragmatic level, most people have browsers that allow target _blank. Fair enough, that means it is a a webmaster issue, as far as pleasing the masses goes.

    However, my browsing experience is different, and I believe more ideal. My Firefox+extensions doesn't open _blank in a new window unless I decide that's where I want it. I am alerted to the webmaster's suggestion that I open the link in a new window by a little icon by the link, but it is my choice where the link goes. Not only is webmaster intervention unneeded, it would likely be either redundant or counterintuitive.

    I realize that most people don't have those kinds of features, understand that they are available, or care enough to use them, but I believe that in many instances, browser side fixes offer superior fixes for usability than anything short of 100% unified action on behalf of everyone with a website.
    Using your unpaid time to add free content to SitePoint Pty Ltd's portfolio?

  25. #100
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    Let us not forget the purpose of any website: to provide information, to provide goods or services or to entertain.

    A huge percentage of internet users simply want their needs met. They do not care about your design or elegant code. All they want to do is navigate to the bit they want, do whatever needs to be done and leave.

    If you insist that they open windows (either the whole thing or just a pop-up) every time they click on a link then their browsing experience will be soured. If you tell them what is going to happen then their wrath may be molified a little. If however you allow them to progress through a series of pages with clear navigation and quality content then the whole issue of new windows doesn't even come up. Amazon and Ebay seem to have done very well without using new windows so why should you think that your site selling widgets will be any better for having the images of widgets in a popup?

    Remember: The website is for the benefit of the customer not for you. Make it as easy as possible for them to navigate from one place to the next. Opening links in new windows does not make navigation any easier: in fact it makes it more difficult because the navigation history is destroyed and the lest savvy user will not even know that a new window has been opened.


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