Freedom Tunnel by Pro-Zak.
When we link out to another site, it can be hard not to consider the readers you may have just sent away. In an attempt to lessen the likelihood of losing the reader, many people force links to open in a new window, but is this really the best solution?

The Reasons For

  • Your page stays open. This is undoubtedly the main reason for it. The link is loaded in a new window. When the user has finished with it, and closes the window, they’ll find your page still sitting there.
  • Some links are intended to be used as references. For instance, if I were writing an article about nuclear power, I might reference my source like this: nuclear energy is a heavily debated topic (Eco Warrior)… The link will open in a new window/tab, allowing the user to check my reference, and then continue reading the article.

The Reasons Against

  • It is not your browser. As much as you would like to control your readers, you can’t. It is their browser, their internet connection, and their choice. Trying to force your choice upon them will annoy them, and every little annoyance increases the likelihood of them leaving permanently (Think about how you feel when a website forces new windows to open on you).
  • If a user feels your page is worth continuing to read, they will open a new window themselves. With the advent of tabbed browsing, this ideal is true now more than ever before.
  • The user is not lost, even if they leave your page temporarily. The back button is probably the most frequently used part of a browser. Once the user has read the link you gave them, they can get back to your site easily if they want to.

In the end, you want your users to come back to you. As any honest blogger knows, you can’t trick users into becoming loyal to you. You show them your best side, and leave the decision up to them. In my opinion, whilst new windows might scrape a few extra page views out of half-interested users, the annoyance it poses will hurt your potential for building the good relationships that you really want.

There is a good discussion on this topic in the reader comments of this article. What is your policy on your blog? New windows or not?

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