Is it OK to open Links in a new window?
Dealing with link behavior is an issue that my team faces when conducting Website Accessibility Testing.
Whenever you click on a link, on a webpage it usually does one of two things;.
Opens the link in the tab/window or in a new tab/window.
Based on our experience we've noticed that the prevailing approach is to open links in a tab/window especially when redirecting to another website.
While this may seem like the choice it raises the question; is it really the suitable option?
The importance of this matter often comes up during discussions with my clients during their website management training.
They express concern about visitors leaving their site.
Potentially not coming back.
I always emphasize that opening links in the window/tab is practice, particularly for individuals with disabilities.
There are reasons supporting this viewpoint.
For instance if someone has impairments they may not realize that a link has opened in a window making it difficult for them to find their way back, to the previous website without using the browsers back button.
Although they can eventually reopen their browser and continue browsing it requires time and effort.
Just imagine how this challenge escalates with each followed link.
Opening windows can put a strain on computer resources especially for those, with less powerful computers.
This is particularly important for individuals with disabilities who rely on software like JAWS or Dragon which can be resource intensive.
It's frustrating when websites slow down or stop working which we've observed during our audits on numerous occasions.
Another challenge is the behavior of links within the website.
Sometimes they open in a window while times they open in the same window.
This inconsistency adds to the frustration.
Hinders seamless website navigation.
There are instances where its useful to open a link in a window such as when filling out a form or providing detailed guidance.
Opening these types of links in a window helps prevent any loss of work.
So what should you do?
The solution is simple; if you're going to open a link in a window inform the visitor beforehand!
For a link;
Discover the benefits of joining our club (opens in a window)
When theres a list of links;
Learn more, about our products.
Please note that each link opens in a window.
Discover all the information, about Product A.
Learn everything there is to know about Product B.
Get all the details about Product C.
While its preferable to keep links within the window following this guideline ensures that your website is inclusive and shows consideration for disabled visitors.
By implementing this measure you can significantly impact how disabled individuals perceive your website and your overall business.
Image Caption; An illustration of a window with a chain across it.
The accompanying text asks, "Is it acceptable to open links in a window?"
Do you want to dive?
If you're interested in learning more about website accessibility explore these options;
Access by Design
Creating Beautiful, WCAG 2.2 Compliant, Accessible Website Designs
Providing Exceptional Website Accessibility Audits
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