Arguments for opening links in a new tab or window

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Jason Grigsby asks for data to support an apparent preference for people defaulting to links opening in new tabs.

Oh boy, this is something I’ve pushed back on for years, working in client services. It’s part and parcel of working in that world. My rule of thumb is give users choice almost always, but here are a couple of contexts where I would recommend links get a target="_blank" added to them:

  • If there’s audio or video playing on the page, you don’t want that to be disrupted with an accidental link click
  • If the user is in some form of onboarding or purchase flow, you’re already dealing with fine margins, so links opening in new tabs mitigates drop-off risk

Jason is looking for data though which the above definitely isn’t. If you have data, you should definitely share it with them!

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Hello, I’m Andy and I’ll help you to level up your front-end development skills.

I'm a designer and front-end developer who has worked in the design and web industries for over 15 years, and in that time, I have worked with some of the largest organisations in the world, like Google, Harley-Davidson, BSkyB, Unilever, The Natural History Museum, Oracle, Capita, Vice Media and the NHS.

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