I was in an interesting Twitter discussion recently where the idea of having website links open in new tabs came up.
You know what I mean; sometimes when you click a link on a website, the new site replaces what you’re viewing, but sometimes instead they automatically open up in a new browser tab. So which way is better? It depends on your perspective.
Most of the arguments in favor of new tabs come from a personal perspective, the most common of which is “I want to keep my site open so that people don’t really leave it“. That makes sense, but is it best for your user? Probably not.
Chris Coyier wrote a great post a few years ago with reasons against it, which I tend to agree with. Along with his solid reasons, opening those new tabs are bad for some users with disabilities, as it makes it more difficult for them to browse the web.
Who is that feature really for? Your users or you?
It was more than a decade ago when I first wrote this, but it still applies today — putting a “designed by” link at the bottom of a site that you build is selfish, and most discussions will quickly reveal it.
I’ve seen a number of posts about putting those links down there (or not), and they always say things that discuss the impact of it on the designer’s site (from getting that backlink), not from the perspective of the client. Those discussions are always about the site owner, not the end user.
The other place I often see this is with home page sliders, where a bunch of images are in a carousel and they expect the site visitor to kick back and watch them go by. Yeah, they won’t.
The phrase I’ve learned to watch out for when building a site is “I want…”. It can come from a good place, but building a website the way you want, instead of the way the end customer would want it, is likely a bad idea.