Sunday, September 12, 2010

Opening links in new windows

While searching through sites this weekend for ideas for my classroom, I'm finding it to be more than just a minor irritation how sites have links referring to another site but do NOT have the link open in a new window. Why open in a new window? you ask. Or this just adds another window to my task bar, you say.

I often find when I am surfing the web through a series of clicking on links from one site to another that I end up in the middle of nowhereville and can't find my way home. Sure the back button works just fine, but where was I? I feel I've lost my original train of thought when I click the back button trying to find the site I was headed for in the first place. I find myself more and more right clicking and choosing "Open link in new window", (or "Open link in new tab" to keep things on the same string, but then I forget and close my window. :)

Many of the articles I've read about this have been written 5 to 10 years ago arguing that it adds more clutter to the taskbar, or that it unnecessarily breaks the back button history. This is 2010, and bowsers and operating systems have advanced since then. Vista, Windows 7, and Mac OS X all have the nice feature of stacking or grouping your pages from your web browser on the taskbar or dock. No more cluttered taskbars!

Some novice web surfers feel that it is confusing to have windows open in a new window. (Some novice web surfers need to be taught the art of layers. :) I teach my students when they come to the tech lab how to use the Window menu at the top of their browser so they are not confused when the window they were working on suddenly goes behind their login window on a site. (That is one time I feel that a new window doesn't need to open, but that's for another blog!)

I feel it is a courtesy to visitors to have it open in a new browser window, rather than forcing them to stay on my page. Most web page building applications have a menu that easily allows you to set the link to open in a new window, or to set the target to "new" or "blank". This extra step takes but just a minute to set, but is very helpful to visitors on your site.

What's your opinion - new window or back button? I would be interested in seeing your comments.


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