January 31, 2005

Link Hubris?

So, I have this mental hang-up that, to me, seems rather ridiculous. It has to do with hyper-links on this blog.

Right now, I have hyper-links set so that, if you click a link, you are whisked away from this page to whatever page I link to.

Now, there is another link method, utilized by such bloggers as Andrew Sullivan and, recently, James Lileks, whereby, when you click a hyper-link, and entirely new browser window opens up, taking you to the link while still allowing you to stay on the original page in another window.

Now, I've toyed with the idea of switching over to the "new window" method of hyperlinking, but I just can't do it. It just seems like such self-important method of linking. "Oh, here's a cool link, but since my page is also cool, it will stay open while you look at the page I link to."

On the other hand, it's convenient, I suppose, so you don't have to hit the "Back" button after you've viewed the page. But, again, that assumes that the reader really WANTS to come back to your site which, you know, isn't necessarily the case. Besides, it gives the whole impression of a pop-up ad and. . . okay, maybe I'm thinking too hard on this.

What do you think? Just a plain hyper-link, or a pop-up window? Which is better?

Posted by Ryan at January 31, 2005 10:28 AM

I'm in the camp of — target="_blank" — linking, this gives you the pop-up. I never thought of it as self-important thing. If you're going to link to other pages as reference, it's more functional to have it in another window. If one has the screen real estate, you can slide the window(s) around, put them side-by-side, etc. If you're stuck on an 800x600 set-up, them the pop-up doesn't really matter either way. You're still going to have one window on-top of another; there's little difference between back-button & close-window.

Posted by: seed at January 31, 2005 11:16 AM

I'm with you on this one, Ryan. The new-window linking is for pompous asses. The only exception I could imagine is for a post that is nothing but a long list of links (i.e. your one on Iraq bloggers) where a user is probably going to want to keep coming back to the list.

Posted by: David Grenier at January 31, 2005 11:22 AM

You comment software won't let me post because I use the word "window" too much. So every time you see "w*****", swap in that word. Okay? Okay.

If a user is _at all_ computer savvy, they can open any link they want in a new w****** by right-clicking qand selecting "Open link in a new w******". In a lot of cases (Firefox, for example) it's even easier: middle-click.

I tend to view pages with several tabs over a single w****** (and if you don't know about tabbed browsing by now... go get Firefox, or, well... pretty much an non-Microsoft browser in existence, and see the light!), and it's really annoying when a web page opens up another w******.

Pop-ups take control away from the viewer.

It's especially obnoxious when you're on one of those sites where practically every link is a New W****** link... so after a few minutes you end up with five or six w******s all pointing to different pages on the same site! grrrr.....

Another argument agains New W****** links is that it confuses the heck out of the *less* computer-savvy by breaking the Back button. Hell, even my mom knows the Back button... but once in a while she clicks on a link and the back button doesn't work -- because she's actually in a new w****** that is in front of the old w******.

I use them only in very rare situations... and quite frankly I can't even think of an example at the moment. Avoid them.

Posted by: Strider at January 31, 2005 12:28 PM

I operate on the assumption that everyone right clicks links and opens them in a new window or a new tab if they want to.

Forcing new window.s to open clutters up the desktop and does smack of self importance.

What blows my mind is that there's still a huge percentage of the 'net population using Internet Explorer for their web surfing and that's just sad. Its like trying to enjoy a drive on the Autobahn in a rented Yugo.

Posted by: Johnny Huh? at January 31, 2005 01:39 PM

I dunno guys,
The rule of thumb for "tool" sites tends to go something like this: If you are linking to a page within the site, say a section of CNN, no new windoe. If you are linking to a site outside of the CNN— say SI.com, new windoe. For the most part, MSN plays by the same rules. For example, if you go to their "travel" section they brand it with an MSN frame but take you to Expedia.

Yahoo and Google, on the other hand, goes in the opposite direction. But those are "portal" sites. CNN and MSN own the content they provide, in the same way Ryan owns his. They want to be clear in the implied associations. Google acts like a ticket booth and directs you to other locations. They own little of the content and want to be efficient in their purpose—get to where you want to go. Ryan, on the other hand, doesn't intend to push a reader onto another site (I don't think) never to return again.

Browser tabbing and option/control clicking is for savvy users and allows them to have over-riding control. If somebody wishes to tab-click all their links they can do so. As for getting lost with the back button, it works both ways. If somebody snakes through an extended path, they can just as easily get lost with 12 back-up, not realizing that they can control click there as well.

Posted by: seed at January 31, 2005 02:49 PM

I'm all about target="_blank"! Have been from the start. Sure people can Shift (or Command) click but most "normal" users don't know this.

Think about it... you go to a page and start reading, oop! there's a link, what do you do? You click it of course! Now, have you finished reading that page yet? Heck, have you even finished reading the paragraph? I rest my case.

And if you're REALLY good (like me), you will Command-Shift click (not sure how to do it on a PeeCee) which loads a new window UNDER the current one you're reading. So, while the linked page is loading in the background, you get to keep reading the current page.

Posted by: Joseph at January 31, 2005 08:49 PM

I *hate* target="_blank". Like basically everyone who doesn't use IE, I'm used to tabbed browsing. Normal links give me the choice to open in a new tab, a new window, or to replace the current page. target="_blank" takes away that choice and furthermore does it by replacing the method I use most by the one I use least of all by several orders of magnitude.

Posted by: Gudy at February 1, 2005 06:15 AM

If you click on a link in my blogroll, it will open a new window, a link in a post will not.

Which, now that I think about it, seems ass-backwards, but I'm not going to change it.

Posted by: Rob@L&R at February 1, 2005 08:37 AM

And what's wrong with hubris?

I prefer the new window. Yes, I can get the same effect by right-clicking and selecting from the context menu. Call me lazy, but I don't want that extra effort. Seriously. If the link is going to take me out of the site, I would rather the default be a new window.

Posted by: UML Guy at February 6, 2005 03:23 AM
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