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Links, Pop-Up or Not

 5:49 pm on Jan 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

I run a content site.

In my articles I have lots of links to similar sites, related articles, etc.. etc..

I cannot decided whether to have the links open a new window or not.



 6:44 pm on Jan 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

Can I answer a question with a question? When do you want a user to leave your site? Opening a link in a new browser window will give easy access to the linked information and as soon as the user closes the new browser window, they are still at your site. With the short attention spans of most people today, anything that can keep a user focused on your site is a good thing.


 6:47 pm on Jan 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

According to Jakob Nielsen, the web usability guru, opening new windows is pure evil. He thinks it creates clutter on your desktop.


 6:53 pm on Jan 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

jez and diamond,

You guys have touched on both sides of my problem!

I know the usability guy think it is evil, but it is also so tempting because it keeps the visitor on my site!


 7:16 pm on Jan 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

If they keep browsing in the new window they aren't really still on your site. When they're done your window will just look like any other pop unders that opened and get closed with the rest.


 7:21 pm on Jan 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

I do agree with diamond that it does create clutter. Thats why I always user a browser with "tabs" and open most if not all links in a new tab. However, the majority of people on the internet aren't using a tabbed browser and I wouldn't want them to leave my site until they really want to leave. Following the same argument, clicking on an external link could be construed as a desire to leave my site. I have seen sites that notify the user that clicking a link will go to a new site. This may be an option for you. Less clutter for your users, as well giving the user full knowledge that they will be leaving your site.


 11:58 pm on Jan 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

In the past I have always popped up new windows. However, since Windows XP SP2, I am getting complaints by users that the new windows are getting blocked by SP2 and other popup stoppers.

I've been considering changing to opening within the same window.



 5:34 pm on Jan 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

As long as there aren't excessive links opening a ton of windows I think it's smart for them to open in a new window. That way your site is still open for them even when they close out of there previous windows.


 5:53 pm on Jan 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

I think pop-ups is annoying and does create clutter/chaos. Also, there are many who use pop-up blockers and with some when you click on a link nothing happens...no indication of anything. Many times the user is unaware that it is a pop-up and wouldn't waste the time trying to figure it out. When they click on a link and nothing happens this makes your site look poor, even though it's the pop-up blocker doing it's job.

If you decide to go with the pop-up window I would say make sure you indicate clearly on your site something like: "Links open in a new window. Please temporarily disable any pop-up blockers." That would usually make the visitor more aware of their pop-up blockers. But, not everyone would take heed.

I would personally, go with opening links in the same window, but will try to link to pay-per click links or affiliate links, while still giving quality links to your visitors. This way you don't lose.

Hope this helps!


 6:08 pm on Jan 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

Are we talking about a javascripted pop-up or are we talking about using html to open the link in a new window? I test using Firefox with pop-ups disabled, IE with the Google toolbar disabling pop-ups, and Safari with pop-ups disabled, and have had no problem at all with using html to open a page in a new window.


 8:24 pm on Jan 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

Are we talking about a javascripted pop-up or are we talking about using html to open the link in a new window?

Specifically, I am talking about openning up a new window using html. No javascript.


 1:00 am on Jan 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

I am running into the problem mentioned by Anthonyon.

The pop-up blockers are making it so that new windows are not popping up at all. The users click, but nothing happens, no errors, nothing. Many of the users are clueless as to what is happening. These are not Javascript popups. It is probably because users have more than one popup blocker running.

So, for me, it is not an issiue of which is better, Opening new windows is hurding sales. Keeping users in the same window seems to be the only way to go.



 5:04 pm on Jan 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

In the past I have always popped up new windows. However, since Windows XP SP2, I am getting complaints by users that the new windows are getting blocked by SP2 and other popup stoppers.


this is because those tools are using the wrong method of determing a popup... they should not be stopping all new windows... only those not requested to open by the user... this is easily done by parsing the clicked on URL and allowing that page to open whilst stopping others that that URL may try to open... it is not something that _you_ can do, though... it must be done within the apps doing the blocking...

the apps that are blocking everything are simplistic and taking the most simple approach in blocking anything that opens a new window... i heartily recommend attempting to educate folk on what's happening and how they can go about fixing it... education is always a plus... especially when it opens one's eyes to what's really going on in the world ;)


 5:37 pm on Jan 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Why are we making decisions based on one so-called "guru's" opinion. There aree many folks (gurus and users) who come down on both sides of the issue. Many usability pages that I have been to "demand" that new sites open in new windows. Heck! My husband and I are the local gurus around here and we open EVERYTHING in new windows, new site or not. Clutter, shmutter! I think it's completely appropriate to have a new site open in a new window. That's the whole point of the target="_new" attribute.


 5:57 pm on Jan 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

What about target="_blank"? Will the popup blockers block that?


 6:19 pm on Jan 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

I find the new windows irritating enough that I used to visit sites that used target="_blank" less often or not at all. These days, I just disable new windows in Firefox.

If a visitor doesn't care enough to use the back button, they won't be spending much more time at your site anyway.


 8:42 pm on Jan 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

You can't spend time educating a visitor on how to control pop-ups or how to reconfigure their pop-up blocker app. The point is make the site visitor-friendly without any reconfiguration from the visitor. You want to keep visitors to your site without chasing them away because things aren't compatible with their pop-up apps. Most visitors are smart. If you have a domain that is easy enough to remember and the content on your site is interesting to your targeted audience then you shouldn't have any problems with returning visitors. Also, if you do a lot of advertising where a visitor sees your site often being advertised on banners, text ads, etc. then they should recognize your domain name and it would eventually become a well-known name in their memory. I would not use pop-up windows unless it is extremely important or you don't care if the visitors gets to the new link which you are trying to have them click to.

Pop-up blockers these days are designed in many different ways and block by many different variations. It would be a waste of time to try and educate a visitor on their pop-up without knowing their exact app. And it would be a waste of time because most users would just go elsewhere and feel insulted that your site is trying to tell them that their pop-up blocker is a problem or trying to tell them how to configure their pop-up blocker. i know I would just go to another of the million web pages out here which I'm sure offers the same content with less frustration. It's about getting ahead of the competition, not about what you like. Don't worry visitors will return to your site if you have what they like and/or want. Worry about the content of your site and advertising your site not if visitors is staying on your site or leaving your site because of links....they'll return sooner or later.

Good luck.

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