[fr] En 2011, c'est toujours pas bien de forcer les liens à ouvrir dans une nouvelle fenêtre. Sauf, on peut l'admettre, quand votre site est en fait une application web.
I was surprised recently to realize that in 2011, it wasn’t obvious to everybody that forcing links to open in a new window (with
target="_blank") was not a good idea.
Actually, there are quite a few high-profile sites which force links to open in new windows, and I realized I actually don’t mind it that much: Twitter is one. I like that when I click on a link in Twitter, it opens in a new tab. I’ve learned that Twitter does this, and I now rely on it.
So, maybe links in new windows aren’t always a bad thing?
Here’s what I think: if your “site” is in fact an application, then it doesn’t matter much. People will learn to use the interface of your web application, and if links open in new windows, they will discover that and (hopefully) remember it. However, if your site is a real site, meaning it contains stuff that people are going to read, and that stuff might contain links to other stuff people might want to read or see, then it remains a Bad Thing.
Why is it a Bad Thing to force links to open in a new window (in your blog, for example)? Here’s the reasoning behind this.
- Normal behavior is that links open in the same window.
- When you force a link to open in a new window, you’re breaking that expectation — and there is no way to know, by looking at the link, that it’s going to spawn a new window.
- Opening new windows is a user decision, not a website design decision. Windows are part of the browser, not the site.
- A link can easily be opened in a new tab or window by holding down a modifier key before clicking on it (Cmd/Ctrl for example).
- A link which is set to be opened in a new window cannot be opened in the same window if that’s what the reader would prefer.
- Opening links in new windows may confuse the user (who might not notice the new window) and breaks the back button (to go back, you have to close the current window instead of hitting the back button — adding a different way to “go back”… more confusion).
- if your site is actually a web application, where links open is part of the application design, and forcing links to open in a new window can make sense in certain situations;
- if your site is a “proper website” or a blog, don’t force links to open in a new window — where they open belongs to the way your reader chooses to use his browser, and not to the website design.