User-hostile Link Behavior

Most people know how to open your article’s outbound links in new tabs or windows, especially readers of a tech site. Modern browsers make multiple-tab/window management very easy for almost everyone who wants them, and the people who don’t know how to manage them usually don’t want them.

The best practice for the modern web is to let people manage their own windows and tabs.

-Marco Arment, Forcing links to open in new windows: an argument that should have ended 15 years ago”,

On previous iterations of this site, I had always used the target=”_blank”’ item in my link markup, mainly due to the fact that I was using Tumblr’s built-in editor, which made it an easy, single click away. However, I read a post by Matt Gemmell1 that showed me the light regarding its user hostility. Now, every time I visit a site that directs me to a new tab when I click a link, I let out an audible groan.2 With the move to Markdown for all of my writing, in addition to the fact that I now dislike the behavior, I left it behind by virtue of the fact that Markdown leaves it out by default.

Either way, the behavior is, at best, simply unnecessary cruft in a website design (or ignorance) and, at worst, an actively user-hostile choice. For experiences that show signs of the latter, I honestly hope that website designers get with the times.

  1. See the section entitled, Hypertext Etiquette, for all the rules. I agree with every single one and suggest you read the entire post if you are a blogger or want to know more about designing a website’s behavior specifically for reading. ↩︎

  2. It is actually one of the reason why I no longer read The Verge. The site has tons of links and each one directs me to a new tab. As Arment says, give me (or any reader for that matter) the choice of how to manage my open items. ↩︎

Posted: January 10, 2014

In 2022, I am participating in two leadership training programs. This should be a social experience, so I am writing about it. Check out the full list of posts in the series here.

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