External Links: Accessibilty and Control [link]

I keep a list of blog posts I want to write in the future. One of them was always going to be about how one should avoid creating links that automatically open in new windows or tabs. And then someone practically wrote that post for me.

This is still a common practice on many websites, but it’s best to avoid making links like that for two reasons.

#1: Accessibility –

Opening new windows without warning can confuse and disorientate some users – perhaps those using screen readers, but also perhaps those with some kind of cognitive impairments for whom sudden changes of browser window can spoil concentration.

#2: User Control –

Who am I to dictate when a user wants to open a new browser window? Why not just give the user the choice as to whether a link opens a new window or not?

There are only a few very specific circumstances where it’s considered appropriate, and, if you must do it, you should notify visitors that it’s going to happen before they click.

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