in Technology

Isn’t _target a passe in hyperlinks?

I am not really a fan of html hyperlinks spawning new windows, my reason may be particularly because I use a tabbed browser (firefox) as my primary browser and I wish to remain in one window with tabs opened if needed be. Some people say, “I want surfers to stay on my site”. But why, if they want, they will come back; why are you forcing them. And technically, it is also not part of newer specs anyway, xhtml 1.1 no longer have _target. It is the surfer/user who should decide if the link should be a flowing link from one to the other or to open a new window. If the user wants the link to open in a new window s/he will definitely do it manually. Why should one take away the choice from the user.

I am neither a fan of Jakob Nielsen but his Top 10 New Mistakes of Web Design have valid points. Quoting his Point No. 2 —

Opening New Browser Windows

Opening up new browser windows is like a vacuum cleaner sales person who starts a visit by emptying an ash tray on the customer’s carpet. Don’t pollute my screen with any more windows, thanks. If I want a new window, I will open it myself! Designers open new browser windows on the theory that it keeps users on their site.

But even disregarding the user-hostile message implied in taking over the user’s machine, the strategy is self-defeating since it disables the Back button which is the normal way users return to previous sites. Users often don’t notice that a new window has opened, especially if they are using a small monitor where the windows are maximized to fill up the screen. So a user who tries to return to the origin will be confused by a grayed out Back button.

Bloggers, web developers/designers, if you feel that this is not untrue, please do away with _target and let us give surfers the freedom to pick their choice.

  1. Sorry. I love _target. I use it all day and all night.

  2. Sorry. I love _target. I use it all day and all night.

  3. The mistake the author has made is in thinking that "choice" was embedded in the design of the spec. You can argue unstyled semantic markup and micro-format because it gives the browser more choice how to style the data, but the reality is the technology to do this isn't there. And, likewise the use of `target`, for so long has prohibited browser designers from implementing smart behaviors.

    95% of people that use the target attribute do so because they want to link outside of their site, without the possibility of losing a visitor. No browser currently implements an external-domain-in-new-window option that is readily available to any end-user. You're forced to explicitly tell it the default browsing behavior through the target attribute. This is a problem, you're right, and there should be a choice, but the change must start in spec, and must be implemented in the browsers first.

    Submit a bug-report to Firefox, Webkit asking for the default of opening external links in new windows.

  4. The mistake the author has made is in thinking that "choice" was embedded in the design of the spec. You can argue unstyled semantic markup and micro-format because it gives the browser more choice how to style the data, but the reality is the technology to do this isn't there. And, likewise the use of `target`, for so long has prohibited browser designers from implementing smart behaviors.

    95% of people that use the target attribute do so because they want to link outside of their site, without the possibility of losing a visitor. No browser currently implements an external-domain-in-new-window option that is readily available to any end-user. You're forced to explicitly tell it the default browsing behavior through the target attribute. This is a problem, you're right, and there should be a choice, but the change must start in spec, and must be implemented in the browsers first.

    Submit a bug-report to Firefox, Webkit asking for the default of opening external links in new windows.

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