You’ve got a great website. It’s amazing. It’s so good no-one will want to leave it. Ever. Here’s what you’re thinking:
OMG wow. Our website is amazing. It’s so good no-one will want to leave it. Ever. Let’s help users enjoy our website forever by making all external links open in new windows so then they close the other websites our site will still be open. Our users will thank us until the end of time for making it easier to stay on our site, and anyway Marketing said we had to do it and they know the internet better than anyone!
Oh dear. Most people don’t know this, but making external website links open in a new window makes pandas sad. Look, here’s a sad panda made sad because it used a website that opened external links in new windows.
Why Pandas cry
You need to consider that your website is going to be just one part of a users browsing session. The user will probably already have open tabs in their current browser window and the tab they have your website in will probably have history before your site. When you force a new window to open for a user you are interrupting their browsing flow. When this happens the user has a jarring user experience because of your website. Well done your website.
There are already controls in browsers to let users open links in new windows or tabs, in Safari they are the the first two options in the right-click context menu, or a Cmd+click:
When you force the user to open links from your website in a new window you are taking away control the user already has.
It’s a PITA and I have to work around it
Here’s what I personally do when your website opens a link in a new window:
- Your website forces new window to open when I click on a link.
- New window opens, I close it immediately.
- On your website again I Cmd+click the link or right click and select ‘open in new tab’.
- I close the tab your website was in and re-position the new tab with the new website in where the tab for your website used to be.
- I mentally remove one karma point from your website in my internal website excellence tracker.
Look at the amount of messing around your website made me do. And now, because of this messing around, your website is no-longer accessible via my browser back button. You’ve succeeded in making your website even less accessible, the exact opposite of that you were trying to achieve.
Luckily I’m mentally tough much like Chuck Norris and so can take this two, maybe three times before cracking, but Pandas aren’t as tough as me. If this happened to a panda the panda would just cry. Sad.