Controversy – Opening Links in New Tabs
I was hit up on this question by one of my marketing friends and wow did this spark a debate within a Facebook group (although friendly). This goes to the core of I think just what your experience is with web browsers. Marketers and the usability experts will have different objectives and may not agree on this topic. As a web designer, I usually have to determine which field of expertise is closest to the problem I’m trying to solve.
The Back Button
One thing you can expect your website visitor to understand is how to use the back button. It is within everyone’s comfort zone and available on nearly every device that has a web browser. If you have ever been on the web, you know how to use a back button to navigate around websites.
Opening Links In a Tab
What might not be in everyone’s skillset is opening a link in a new tab. If you know this then pat yourself on the back – you are a web browsing super user! However, links in HTML do not automatically open in new tabs and you have to use additional html to make them open in a new window (yikes don’t ever do that) or a tab (if your browser handles tabs otherwise it is an evil new window).
Here is the thing though, your back button loving users may not appreciate your taking links to a new tab. They might also think it a bit impolite and users like having control.
But I Like Tabs!
I do too, tabs are awesome. But maybe we shouldn’t be presumptuous and think people can’t get back to our websites. Maybe time to stop listening to the marketers, instead listen to the usability experts whose tests show this confuses website users. So some food for thought, maybe be polite to the folks who find this confusing and not open links in a new browser and leave the decision to the super users. Power to the people!
(Excuse me while I go and edit my site, darn!)