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Should I Open in a New Window or Not?

I receive many of the same questions regarding website design, optimization and overall website user experience, so I thought I’d share them with you because you may be asking the same thing.

Question: Should I open in a new window (tab) or not?

Answer: Yes and No. (How’s that for a straight answer)

Yes when you’re linking to a document. No when you’re linking to a website. If you want to know why, read on.

Yes when you’re linking to a document

There is no disputing this one, if you’re linking to a PDF or other type of document, image, etc. ALWAYS open in a new window or tab. Most people will immediately close the window after they’re through and you don’t want them closing your site or browser.

No when you’re linking to a website

Any other time, you should be linking directly and not in a new window. I know, I know, you may be saying, “I don’t want them to leave my site”. They are leaving your site if you open a new window to a website. How do you think they’re going to try to get back to your site? Yes, using the Back button. But that button will be inactive because you opened them up in a new window.

So…open in a new window when linking to documents. Any other time do not.

And hey, if you don’t want to listen to me, read what the experts have to say about opening new windows.


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