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Do I overuse target="_blank"?

almost 6 years ago from , Product Designer at Memrise, Organiser of Design Club.

A friend of mine, who through Codecademy is learning HTML and CSS, asked me the other day about my usage of target="_blank" and where I thought it was appropriate.

I hadn't really considered it before, but I do use it A LOT. My thought process is that ANYTHING that links away from my own pages should be a "_blank" as the user is then not whisked away and potentially lost (forever...).

I notice DN use "_blank" for the stories too.

Am I saving my user time? Or have I fallen into dark pattern of 'fixing' my bounce rate stats (if you know what I mean)?

Thanks.

12 comments

  • Sarah KavanaghSarah Kavanagh, almost 6 years ago

    I use it when linking to external sources that are going to take people away from my sites, but would never use it for internal linking. In the case of DN i'd imagine they use it so people can always stay on the stories page and be reading several stories in other tabs at once?

    7 points
    • Taurean BryantTaurean Bryant, almost 6 years ago

      +1 to that. I think a general rule of thumb would be your motivation for making design decisions like that. If its a function that benefits a goal of yours while hurting user experience you're more than likely working in the wrong direction.

      0 points
  • Thibault MichelThibault Michel, almost 6 years ago

    I like to leave it entirely up to the user to decide whether or not to leave the site upon clicking a new link.

    6 points
  • Steve McKinneySteve McKinney, almost 6 years ago

    I find the use of target="_blank" quite annoying. I personally think it should be up to the user.

    I never know when I'm going to get a link that will open a new tab or not, sometimes it's quite hard to predict, which is where the annoyance comes in. I end up usually forgetting the site and going back to it later through a new tab anyway. I know this isn't the case for everyone.

    However the only places I do appreciate it is when I'm doing something that needs saving. If there is say a reference link to something and I forget to hold cmd then that page could be lost.

    3 points
    • Jonathan YapJonathan Yap, almost 6 years ago (edited almost 6 years ago )

      Yeah, an especially for users like me who frequently use the back button or swipe back in iOS7. I find it really annoying to open up tons of tab. :S

      I generally let the user decide.

      0 points
  • Cihad TurhanCihad Turhan, almost 6 years ago

    Lol, I didn't realized here uses target="_blank" because as a habit, I always open links using middle button of the mouse.

    2 points
  • Kevin LetchfordKevin Letchford, almost 6 years ago

    I generally dislike target="_blank", on desktops it doesn't really cause any issues. But when viewing the site through a mobile it makes it a real pain to have to flick back and forth through pages as theirs more fiddling.

    1 point
  • David MerriqueDavid Merrique, almost 6 years ago

    Although many people say that you should leave it up to the user, I personally find it incredibly frustrating when external links don't open in new tabs.

    When they don't, I curse under my breath, go back, and open it in a new tab myself.

    1 point
  • Christoph OChristoph O, almost 6 years ago

    I find the best way to decide is whether you need to preserve the context of the users current activity. If the link appears in the middle of a long article, I'd use "blank", so readers can pick up right where they left off when they get back to the tab. In contrast, if it's a link in a sidebar widget, users probably want to navigate elsewhere and "blank" doesn't make much sense.

    1 point
  • Lucas AlmeidaLucas Almeida, almost 6 years ago

    I usually use it when I have an external link. In my personal website, I use it for my social profiles and for the thumbnails (Dribbble feed).

    1 point
  • Keith EsernioKeith Esernio, almost 6 years ago

    I'm really glad you brought this question to DN, because I'm working on a project that has a lot of outbound links. As it stands right now all outbound links are opening In a new tab, but we're doing usability testing and have found that generally older people get confused with the new tab and lose track of where they came from and don't know how to navigate back to the original website.

    Keeping in mind our target group is pretty vast (as this is a very popular service among adults) - I'm curious what anyone's thoughts are on the matter...

    0 points
  • Duncan GrahamDuncan Graham, almost 6 years ago

    I'm ambivalent towards the issue on desktop, but it's really frustrating on mobile, where navigating between tabs isn't nearly as quick and easy.

    0 points