The Great Open Links Debate: Where Do You Stand?

by Cathy Miller on February 2, 2012


Social media – you gotta love it.

Where else can you find a debate on whether or not you should use a new window to open a link?

As a firm believer in the right to do your own thing, I figured that’s why the gods of the internet give you a choice.

  • Open link in new window
  • Open link in same window

Simple, right? Apparently not.

Lacking Link Love

I don’t remember how I stumbled on a rant about links opening in a new window, but it was the first I heard about the controversy.

It’s the techies versus the marketing strategists.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)

This is an international standards organization and W3C recommends you do NOT open links in new windows.

  • The techies argue it’s about control for the users
  • Besides, all browsers give users ways to open links in a new window

How? Right click on the link and you will see a pop up that looks something like the image below.



Marketing Strategists

The strategists recommend links open in new windows so readers are not tempted to leave your site so quickly

If you Google should links open in new windows, you get 642 million results.

  • Who knew it was such a big deal?
  • The results show discussions dating back to 2004

What’s Old is New Again

Since I am a relative newbie to blogging (since 2008), this long-debated topic was news to me.

That’s what I try to explain to my veteran friends. No matter what the topic, it’s new to someone.

So, what do you think?

  • Take our very scientific poll
  • If you clicked on the links in this post, you know my vote
  • Share any of your thoughts on this great debate in Comments


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BigStock Photo Credit

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne Wayman February 3, 2012 at 11:23 am

lol, this has been going on roughly forever. At all my sites and blogs I open in a new window. I’ve had to fight a couple of techs to keep it that way. Many folks just don’t know about right-click and I don’t want them to leave unless they intend to… I think I did a survey myself way back when and most of my readers liked the new window approach. One even emailed me thanking me.
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Cathy February 3, 2012 at 11:26 am

Thanks for your insight, Anne. Like most things, the more experienced you are, it’s easy to forget that some of us are not at the same knowledge level, And it can be the simplest little thing.


Faith03 February 8, 2012 at 11:45 am

I am used to opening links in new tab. I don’t know, but I am more comfortable with it. Does it matter?
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Cathy February 8, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Hi Faith: Apparently, to some it does. I received a long explanation from someone whose opinion I respect. I can’t say I understood it all.

A few points she made were: 1) If you browse heavily (as you would in research), they may not appreciate being forced to open another browser, 2) You strip the functionality of the browser back button, 3) Some versions open new windows instead of tabs

Different strokes. In any event, I appreciate you stopping by, Faith.


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