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Marketing Person Insists on Links Opening in New Window
Persuading marketing to stop insisting outbound links open in new window

 5:24 am on Apr 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

I am dealing with a junior marketing 'executive' who has asked me to change all external links on their site to open in a new browser window. Their attitude is the simplistic, "we want to stop people leaving our site", approach.

Now, there may be a time and a place for this technique, but my view is that an argument in favour of this link behaviour needs to be presented, rather than to treat this as the default for external links.

I believe that on this site there is no purpose for external links opening in a new window. In fact it begins to make the, otherwise well designed and 'trustworthy', site look somewhat shoddy and is more likely to irritate customers. The customers are generally 'locked in' to this company's products already and would generally use the links page as a useful resource tool - 99% of the links are to government and educational sites, rather than to any possible business rivals.

Obviously, this is not a new discussion, but I'd be interested in any current thinking on the topic and any 'gentle' arguments that might help me to 'persuade' this person of a different approach.



 5:42 am on Apr 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

Marketing people either know how users really behave and what they like and don't like or they assume every user behaves like themselves.

If you feel like giving the individual an education just point them in the direction of some responsible usability studies. Otherwise trash the old marketing executive and buy a new one.

- George


 6:11 am on Apr 24, 2008 (gmt 0)


Unfortunately the Marketing Exec is a client. Hence the need to tread carefully. ;)

OK, it's not my problem, as long as they are paying us, but I have a certain pride in my work. And, to be fair, he is not bad in other areas. I have had a couple of production meetings with him, but this issue seems to be a sticking point, so I've generally backed off.


 8:26 am on Apr 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

You could always send them to this article...

The Top Ten Web Design Mistakes of 1999

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 (particularly since current operating systems have miserable window management). If I want a new window, I will open it myself!

Shift + Click

Another piece that you could share with this marketing guru of yours...

Open New Windows for PDF and other Non-Web Documents

The common rationale designers have for opening new windows is "to keep users on our site," but that's bogus reasoning. If people want to leave, they'll leave. And if they just want to look at the other site, they'll return to your site by clicking the Back button -- the second most used feature on the Web (after hypertext links). In fact, one of the usability problems of opening new windows is that they alter the expected behavior for returning to the previous location.

Unfortunately the Marketing Exec is a client. Hence the need to tread carefully.

Ah, the ole' "the client is always right" excuse. ;)

In this particular instance, I'd be educating the client on why his decision to open links in a new window may not be in the best interests of his website visitors.

And even more supporting documentation...

Dive Into Accessibility - Day 16: Not opening new windows

The one thing every web user understands is the "Back" button. It's an integral part of browsing the web. Follow a link, go back. Explore a search engine result, go back. Even my father can do this, and he's still excited when he can double-click the "Internet" icon successfully on the first try.

Example for Checkpoint 10.1

Until user agents allow users to turn off spawned windows, do not cause pop-ups or other windows to appear and do not change the current window without informing the user.


 11:50 am on Apr 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

Thanks, some good links.

Ah, the ole' "the client is always right" excuse. ;)

Certainly not. But the client pays the bills. ;)

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