Thursday, December 28, 2006

what's missing?

Your emails and comments are always welcome. A blog reader named Mike sent one that I've been thinking about for a few days:
Ok, so I'm one of the daily readers (and responders sometimes) to your blog. I am always impressed by the sheet number of reference links that you provide in your posts - kudos! But I do have a tip/request... see if you like the idea:

The problem with putting links in your blog posts is that when I, as the reader, clicks the link, then I'm taken away from your blog. So, I find myself getting to the linked site and sometimes poking around there... then I need some way to get back to your blog. Certainly, I can just do a right-click and open your link in a new window - this is no problem. But there's a way that you can add just a little extra and make it open in a new window anyway.

Honestly, I think Web design 'etiquette' says that if you are going to provide a link to somewhere outside your site, you really should be opening it in a new window (otherwise people will think you are the one who created that material).
When I first started my website in 2001, I made all the external links open in new windows. Before I added a blog to the site last year, I looked at a lot of other blogs to see how they operated. The blogs that influenced me the most kept all their links opening in the same window. I ultimately decided to do the same. Of course I wanted people to be able to find their way back to my site, so I put the blog in a frame on my home page with a navigation bar in a frame along the side. Those of you who type into your browser should know what I'm talking about. However a lot of you bypass the frames by going directly to the blog at (which is absolutely fine if that's what you prefer). When I'm websurfing, I'll sometimes force a link to open in a new tab and I'll sometimes let it open in the same tab. It depends on the circumstances. When I want to get back to where I started, I click the tiny little down arrow on my back button so that I can skip back multiple pages at once.

Reader Mike says that proper web etiquette would be to have all links open new windows. The author of "Dan's Web Tips" disagrees. He writes:
It's a growing, annoying trend in the Web these days for links to external sites not to take you there unconditionally (as Web links always have in the past), but rather put the new site within a frame, or pop up an additional browser window. I've even seen sites that pop up an additional browser window that has the linked-to site in a frame... complete with an ad banner in another frame that stays there no matter where you surf on. All of these techniques have the presumptuous rationale that the user can't or won't decide on his own where he wants to surf to, whether he wants to return to the original site, and whether he wants to pull up additional Web browser windows to surf two sites at once. A "New Browser Window" command exists in most Web browser software; let the users do this if they want. You shouldn't force it on them. If the user is low on memory, the extra window can cause a system crash. As for frames, they're even worse; they take up big chunks of the screen, they keep the user from seeing the URL of the site he's surfed to, and if the destination site has frames too, the available screen space shrinks some more.
You can read the rest of his essay at


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Blogger D.O.M. Dan said...

I like the links you provide, and I usually read your whole post first before going back and following links to those sites. When I do link over I almost always right click and open it in a new window.

I didn't know there was such a thing as web design etiquette as reader Mike referred to.

Anonymous Brian Rice, brice2 (at) said...

A suggestion for you readers would be that if they are using Firefox (may also apply in the new IE, but I'm not sure), clicking on the link by pressing the scroll button opens the link in a new tab. I do this frequently when viewing a blog that may have several links to check out, then I read them one by one after finishing the post.

I do generally prefer sites and blogs that open links in new windows/tabs, but if I remember to just use the scroll button, it really doesn't matter.


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