Website Design: Target or No Target, that is the question

Say I’m designing a website about a movie. In this website there are a whole bunch of reference links - actors names are links to IMDB or Wiki, etc.

Now, should these <a href="">links</a> include the <TARGET = “_blank”> parameter, forcing a new browser window to appear?

What is the standard for this type of thing? Force new window, or not?


As a “consumer” I hate it when new windows open. In fact I have my browser configured to disallow popups.

And I was happy to learn that in IE7.0, they will not allow popups that have the menu/toolbars suppressed.

A new browser window is considered a “popup”?

That’s a pretty religious topic.

In our design efforts (corporate/gov’t intranets mostly), we use separate windows sparingly, mostly for things resembling dialog boxes, or a “click here for details” idea.

The main problem with separate winows is that it trashes the user’s ability to us their back button to reverse navigate.

And for the non tech savvy general public who run their browser maximized, they may not realize you’re piling up windows. That leads to confusion when they close what they think is THE window & find a few more behind.

For your specific case where you’re linking to off-site content, you can make a good argument to open those as separate windows, provided you deal with the maximized overlay problem.

In fact, assuming your site is commerical, where you don’t want to be driving your customers off to other sites, I can see the business types insisting that a window remain open on your site at all times.

Bottom line: It depends.

I would vote against it as well. If I want the link in a new window, I will open it in one.

Here is an informative site:
See point 9

I sometimes like links to open a new window, particularly if it is something I want to cross-refer with the original window. But if I want to do that, I’ll just hold Shift when I click the link.

Put it this way - if the link is not forced to a new window, the user can still open it in a new window by simply holding Shift. If the link is forced to a new window, the user has no choice in the matter - and may not even see the new link, if they are using a pop-up blocker.

I’ve noticed some inconsistency in my pop-up blocker - sometimes it will allow a new window if I click on a link to specifically open one, but sometimes it will block it, giving the appearacne that nothing at all has happened.

I wonder if has something to do with HTML vs Javascript methods to launch the new window?

Thanks guys

I think I’ll stick with the “no new window”. Hopefully they will come back after they “go away”. :wink:

Guess what happened when I clicked on your link. :wink:

That’s an interesting take, but as LSLGuy sez (whose advice I agree with, BTW), the industry does not speak with one voice on this. You should consider how a typical user will actually use your site, and balance the tradeoff between useful and annoying. Big outfits do user observation where they just watch users navigate their site (“You can observe a lot just by watching” --Yogi Berra) and see what works and what trips people up. Maybe you can get a friend or two to try out your site, and just make a note every time they say, “Shit!”

(The linked site is, after all, just one person’s opinions. It says you should always include price, especially for B2B. The author does not understand how commercial sales and marketing work. This leaves me suspect as to the wisdom of the other nine.)

Evil, evil, evil. Check out’s use of frames to keep a header on the offsite content. That’s an acceptable compromise, even if you have to use a frameset to do it.

My rule of thumb is: if it’s on your own site, no new window. If it’s a link to another site, use a new window so people are still are on your originating site.

Crap, now I’m back to square one: Confusion!

If your simply trying to avoid being framed in, there are a number of JS routines out there that can detect and fix that situation… a target="_top" will also do the trick much of the time.

Pop-ups do have a value… it is the pittable advertisers and spyware cohorts that have made them the bane of the web world.

As a consumer I prefer a new window to open.

I think we’re headed for opinion-land.

My suggestion is to not popup in new windows, but I’m not that vehement about it.

No! Don’t do this, please. I dunno about anyone else, but I can’t stand the About header sticking around when I leave their site.

umm, can I raise my hand?
I like new windows! And I’m no techie, just an average web surfer. But I know that if my “Back” button is greyed out, then I’m in a new window, and the original site is still there in the background waiting for me, as soon as I close out the new window.

The main site I started in is usually the one I actively chose to enter , and the links that open up in new windows are unknown sites that may or may not be of interest.So I can glance at what opens in a new window, then close it out if it leads me off-topic–and my original window is right there where I left it.

My problem with links that force a new window is they don’t work all the time if you right click on “open in new window”, which is ironic. I like to have a choice on opening in a new window or not, but I will usually choose to open in new window, which is doubly ironic because for ones that AUTOMATICALLY open in a new window, I HAVE to RIGHT click on them, even though it will open a NEW window. :smack:

That’s called tryng to keep your viewers captive.

And “trying” because most web users are smart enough to know how to escape from your site.

If you really want to keep them on the originating site, make it so good that people keep coming back.

Another opinion for using a new window for non-site content.

Granted, I’m savvy enough to right click and open in a new tab/window, but not everyone is. And, if folks end up digging around in someone else’s site, it may be 5 or 10 pages back in the history to find my site. Likewise, if they come across any re-directs it might become challenging or impossible for them to just hit the back button to get where they came from.

It seems to me like a good communication tool to say, “hey, you’re going to a new site, which is why it’s opening in a new page.”

This is my rule of thumb too. Web users are so fickle, and if you want to keep them on your site, keep that window open. I think it’s polite to have a “new window” icon after the link, though. I know this is controversial, but my career lives or dies by visitors and pageviews. Besides, this works fine on the SDMB - I’ve never seen anyone complain. I want the SDMB to stay active while I look at some interesting site/cite.