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What is wrong with "target_blank"?

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    I don't understand why there is an uproar about designers that use
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    <a href="http://thestudentroom.co.uk" target="_blank">TSR</a>
    Apparently it breaks customer usability because of the back button? Aren't there times when it is necessary to open links in a new window? A lot of people say that it is rude, but I don't understand why..

    Any insight on this?
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    As early as 1999, Jakob Nielsen (renowned web usability expert) identified opening new browser windows as bad practice. Time and time again, in usability tests, users report disliking links opening in a new window - many think it plain rude and some even consider it aggressive.

    For some people, aggressive sales techniques work well but in the long-term the majority of potential customers are likely to be put off by it. Just like having an annoying sales person approach you every time you look at a product, popup windows are intrusive and off-putting. In short, it's not good for business to undermine your customers wishes.
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    (Original post by Spontogical)
    I don't understand why there is an uproar about designers that use
    Code:
    <a href="http://thestudentroom.co.uk" target="_blank">TSR</a>
    Apparently it breaks customer usability because of the back button? Aren't there times when it is necessary to open links in a new window? A lot of people say that it is rude, but I don't understand why..

    Any insight on this?
    There is an argument that on personal blogs and other websites that profit from traffic, that it encourages visitors to spend longer on the site - given that if they do not enjoy some content, the previous page will still be there even if they close the new window.

    From a visitors view however, asides these undercover mind-games it's usually deemed quite annoying.
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    As a user, it should be my choice whether to open a link in a new window/tab or not. Not yours.
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    (Original post by Spontogical)
    I don't understand why there is an uproar about designers that use
    Code:
    <a href="http://thestudentroom.co.uk" target="_blank">TSR</a>
    Apparently it breaks customer usability because of the back button? Aren't there times when it is necessary to open links in a new window? A lot of people say that it is rude, but I don't understand why..

    Any insight on this?
    It can depend on your site/application a lot. Occasionally there is a requirement to open a new window however the requirement from a site / webapp to do this is usually fairly rare and in modern web 2.0 land most of the times you might have done this you can now use CSS and Javascript in a better way.

    It's also not always that clear what target=_blank will do in modern tabbed browsers so often it's better to let the user choose. It's also much easier for the user to choose if they want something in a new tab/window (e.g. if they're loading a reference document) or if they want to follow the link and leave the current page.
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    When I've done my own websites and blogs, I've always used the "target_blank" code when linking to external sites, so that visitors can easily come back to my site if they wish, and I also prefer it when other people use it on their sites too. I never realised there was any problem with it tbh :dontknow:

    (Original post by mfaxford)
    It can depend on your site/application a lot. Occasionally there is a requirement to open a new window however the requirement from a site / webapp to do this is usually fairly rare and in modern web 2.0 land most of the times you might have done this you can now use CSS and Javascript in a better way.

    It's also not always that clear what target=_blank will do in modern tabbed browsers so often it's better to let the user choose. It's also much easier for the user to choose if they want something in a new tab/window (e.g. if they're loading a reference document) or if they want to follow the link and leave the current page.
    I think it depends how you set your browser. I use Google Chrome, and I've set it so that those "target_blank" links open in a new tab rather than a new window.
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    (Original post by CherryCherryBoomBoom)
    I think it depends how you set your browser. I use Google Chrome, and I've set it so that those "target_blank" links open in a new tab rather than a new window.
    I know it's often customisable in the browser (although I've not really looked at the FF options for a while). But I was also thinking about as a webdev you don't know how the user might have their browser configured - or how the default might change between each version (With Chrome and FF versions being every few weeks and IE and Opera likely to do the same if they're not already).

    New tab for outgoing links can sometimes be acceptable but it's likely to depend on how people are likely to use your site.
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    (Original post by estel)
    As a user, it should be my choice whether to open a link in a new window/tab or not. Not yours.
    The problem is that I don't think most users actually know how to open a link in a new window.
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    Like all of these things it's fine as long as you use it for a reasonable purpose. With video streaming websites for example, if there is an external link in the description then it obvious make more sense to make it open in a new window than the same tab.
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    I've used it on a few internal pages I've written for work, mainly because some of the people using the page don't really understand web browsers (and if you know where I work, that statement should worry you!) so it's easier to have the new page opened in a new tab/window, especially with the low bandwidth we have and the extra time it would take to load the initial, graphic heavy page.
    Telling them to either hold ctrl or alt and left click to take control themselves seems a step too far for some of the guys.
    If I was writing a page for external use I'd leave the user to decide how to handle new pages but in this case target=_blank is pretty useful.
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    I use it sometimes, but I know that most of our customers aren't exactly the sharpest tools in the shed and they probably aren't even aware that you can choose to open in a new window / tab. Eg, if the user is in the middle of a form and their choices mean they may need to go and set something else up first. If all I do is put a link on the screen, they just click it and wonder where all their stuff went. Then we get a phone call asking why we can't just have it open in a new window. Perhaps there are other ways around it, but none of them are worth the effort.
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    Most forum scripts use target_blank as it generally decreases the bounce rate of a website. The imperative word in that sentence being generally - Certainly if I am on a forum and I see a link to a recipe, for example, inside a topic I will click that and in that instance the target_blank is, in my opinion, quite beneficial. It allows me to come back to that thread later and read on instead of trying to find it again.

    For static HTML pages I don't see the point in target_blank as it will annoy the user if everything on the site is target_blank.

    The general rule I follow is: External Links go for target_blank internal navigation do not
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    (Original post by ConorF)
    Most forum scripts use target_blank as it generally decreases the bounce rate of a website. The imperative word in that sentence being generally - Certainly if I am on a forum and I see a link to a recipe, for example, inside a topic I will click that and in that instance the target_blank is, in my opinion, quite beneficial. It allows me to come back to that thread later and read on instead of trying to find it again.

    For static HTML pages I don't see the point in target_blank as it will annoy the user if everything on the site is target_blank.

    The general rule I follow is: External Links go for target_blank internal navigation do not
    This is pretty much what I do yeah.

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Updated: April 23, 2012
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