Should links open in a new window?

Dec 11, 2014

Hey folks,

Just wanted to throw a usability question out to the masses since it has become a subject of debate between a couple of us.

When you click on link on a webpage, do you prefer that it:

A) Opens in a new tab

B) Opens in a new window

c) Opens in the existing tab


Personally, I prefer that links open in a new tab, because I don't want to lose the original page. 

Looking forward to hearing your opinions!


34 Replies
Nicole Legault

I also vote for new tab based on personal preference.

I think it's particularly important when linking to an outside website. Then you're directing traffic away from your site and they might a) forget they were there in the first place or b) be unable to find their way back to where they were on your site. Clearly we hope that users love the site so much that neither of those things happen, but why take the chance!

Ralf  Baum

New Tab is the best solution.  New Window is on second place, same tab is critically.

Rule No1: If users leave the course they have left the course. :-) That sounds highly logically, doesn't it?

But it's the truth. When learners navigate to another page the risk is quite high that they don't use the Back-Button. As long as a tab is opened they can return. When they have to navigate back - they won't return.

"New window" could help the users to stay away from the course quite a long time. The structure of the web helps them to vanish. They see a link, a new button, another page - another tab and nobody thinks about the learning window anymore. :-)

At the end of the day they see that a LMS window is still open. Perhaps they finish the course but the risk is high that they leave the office. Why? When do you close all your windows? When you are going to leave. What data will be submitted to the LMS Learning Instructor?

User xy has visited 16 slides - duration 5 hours

User Xy is really watching each slide very carefully. *smile*


Chris Perez

My method of web development has always been to open a link in a new tab if the link:

  1. Is unrelated to the original page it came from (third party content)
  2. Disrupts what the user is doing on the original page (if there is still content on the original page the user needs to access)

Otherwise, if the link is the ultimate destination for the user and there is no need to access the content from the launch page, then it should open in the existing tab/window.

David Anderson

Hey Brett - The argument against forcing website links to open in new windows or tabs (based on browser) is that you're overriding the user's experience.

Since most people know to open links in tabs or new windows (Ctrl-click or Shift-click), the school of thought is to let people manage their own windows and tabs.

Exceptions: non .html file types (pdfs, movies, etc) where a pop-up window can be used.

Give control to your learner... I mean user:-)

Brett Rockwood

Hi David - I take your point (their point?) about users controlling their own web experience but in most cases aren't we developing a training experience that just happens to use the web as its medium of delivery? While I hate having a bunch of open window/tabs I think it's preferrable to having people jump out of your training altogether to follow a link.

Interesting discussion.


Ralf  Baum


Shame on me. :-) I was the first person who commented about e-learning and set all on the wrong track. *sorry

If we are only talking about websites (let's take the community as an example) it is a better idea when the new content opens in the current browser window. I do not like it so much if for each click a new window opens. At the end of a day (and this is not a phrase in this case) your browser opens 99 + tabs.