Joanna asks – “I’d find it useful to hear your views Darren on the question of links opening in a new window. I was tutored to set them up to open in a new window so I didn’t lose visitors, but I see other people think it’s ‘spammy’.”
The old ‘should I make links open in a new window’ question – an oldie but a goodie.
My personal preference as a web surfer is that if I want to see a link in a new window (or tab – I’m a big tabbed browser fan) I’ll open it in one (and I do – regularly). I find it incredibly annoying when a new window opens up without me asking for it to. I have enough windows open on my desktop at any one time without needing more!
This personal preference has shaped my own practice as a web developer and blogger – I let readers choose how they wish to open the link. Yes, in doing so I’m sure some leave my blog, never to return, but I’m sure in not forcing new windows on readers that I also retain a few that would become annoyed by new windows opening all the time.
My priority as a blogger is to develop communities of readers who have positive user experiences. While keeping people on a blog by opening new windows for links might seem to make a blog stickier – I’d rather keep people engaged with content that they just can’t live without coming back to. If they do leave the site and want to come back they’ll use the back button.
From what I can tell – the two main reasons that it is legit to have links open in new windows is when you’re linking to a document (PDF) or a large image.
IF I ever decided I had a good reason to open something in a new window I’d make a note of it so the reader knew what to expect.
What Do You Think?
I’d be interested to open this up for a discussion though as I’m sure there are a variety of opinions on the topic. Perhaps others with different kinds of goals for their blogs see things differently.
Do you open links in new windows? Why or Why not?