Our Blog

October 19, 2011 By Hendrik-Jan Francke

Don’t Break the Back Button!

Why forcing links to open in a new window is a mistake

Clients often ask to make their website links open in a new browser window. They say they "don't want visitors leaving the site." We understand. Yet, forcing new browser windows may be the reason why visitors leave.

A Top Ten Mistake

Forcing links to open in a new browser window is considered one of the Top 10 Web Design Mistakes. Here's why…

Clutter is bad

New tabs crowd people's screens with windows they didn't intentionally create. It's like their screen is being hijacked by the website. But there is a bigger reason why links that open in a new browser window are a web design faux pas. It takes away something very near and dear to people's hearts: the "Back" button!

The Back Button is a powerful rewind to previously visited pages

The Back Button is beloved and used a lot by site visitors. We have seen people rapid fire clicks as they trace backwards through the pages they have visited (the browser is capable of taking people back through hundreds of web pages and web sites).

Broken Back Buttun = Broken Path

When browsers force new windows, the path through previously visited pages is broken. The Back Button is renderend useless. For diehard Back Button users, this is bound to cause a ton of frustration. Frustration may prevent users from returning to your site.

New Tab vs. New Window

Interesting to note… Today, web browsers like Chrome and Firefox will open page links in a new tab instead of a new window. But other browsers like Internet Explorer and Safari will still open new windows on users' screens.

Our advice: don't break the Back Button

Because we love usability and follow best practices for our websites, we make it a point to let our clients know how important it is to not "break" the Back Button by forcing links to open in new windows.

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