More and more sites are using target=”_blank” for links to make sure they will open the link in a new window and keep the visitor on the site.
I confess, I am using them myself because I assume the visitors are using FireFox browser that opens those links in a new window.
But is it really a wise thing to do?
When Target=”_Blank” Can / Should Be Used
There is the fundamental law of the Internet ethics that says that you let the visitor decide how he wants to open the links. So (especially) when your target audience consists of technically sophisticated users (like SEO audience for example), be warned that they do not like new windows. They also know how to open a new window or how to prevent a new window whenever they want.
The cases when the attribute can (and is encouraged to) be used are the following:
- To link to a PDF document mostly because when it’s first followed there’s often a delay while the browser loads up the plugin and PDF (and thus you can let the visitor read more information on the current page while the document loads).
It is also a wise thing to do to warn the visitor of the type of the file he is going to download and how the link will open:
<a href=”document.pdf” target=”_blank”>Document</a> (PDF 13K, new window)
- To link to “supplemental information” like help files or additional information that would ordinarily clog up the topic with tangent data.
Target=”_Blank” Versus Other Ways to Open Links in a New Window
Target=”_blank” versus Target=”new”
Here’s an awesome explanation: Using _blank as a target value will spawn a new window every time while using _new will only spawn one new window and every link clicked with a target value of _new will replace the page loaded in the previously spawned window. Try it out for yourself:
Links with target=”_blank”
Links with target=”_new”
- Check out this excellent reference source explaining various target attributes;
- Also, make sure to take a look at this
coverage of HTML target attributes.