Chris Peters's Blog

Target equals blank must die!

April 19, 2006

The Blank says, I think they're on to me!

Your user’s leaving your site is not a reason to use target="_blank" in your anchor tags. Your user’s switching to a different server or application on your company’s web site is not a reason either. Give it up. Find a new attribute to use in your <a> tags. Maybe the title attribute? Hmm?

I increasingly find myself doing this sequence of steps while surfing the web:

  1. Close the browser window that just popped up.
  2. CTRL-click on the link that caused the new window to pop up. This opens it in a new tab.

Step 2 makes the situation a little more manageable, but it’s still annoying to have my browser tab bar at the top of the window fill up with windows containing pages from within the same web site.

I was researching the price for an Adobe product yesterday, and when I was finished, I had to close five windows because of this behavior. And I know what the developers were thinking: “We’re sending the user off to a different application on the site, so I better open the linked page in a new browser.” I was trying to complete my task, not watch the URL for changes in folder names. Nice try, guys. I don’t care about your world of folder switching.

Do not lose faith in the Back button, my friends. Many people’s sheer existence depends on it. The least savvy of Web users will still click it. And they will get pissed off at your organization if your site robs them of the ability to use it.

Now go ahead. Click the Back button to find another blog entry to read. You know you want to.

Written by Chris Peters, your friendly neighborhood digital marketing professional with over 20 years of experience of web design, programming, SEO, and marketing.