Sin #6: Opening Links in New Windows

Glenda Watson Hyatt as a devil

You know the sites: the kind where clicking on a link opens a new window (or a tab, depending upon your browser). The back button doesn’t take you back to the previous page because a new window opened instead. By the time you are finished with the site, you have several windows open that you must now close before carrying on with whatever you were doing. How annoying.

Why is Opening Links in New Windows an Accessibility Sin?

Besides being a frustrating user experience, suddenly opening new windows can disorientate or be missed completely by some people.

I recently heard a senior new to the internet claim a link was not working because nothing happened when he had repeatedly clicked on it. He had not noticed that the link opened in a new window and that he now had 15-20 windows open.

For those with limited hand function or vision impairments, dealing with new windows opening unexpectedly require extra effort to close and to navigate back to the original window.

How to Absolve this Sin?

Insert/edit link dialog box in WordPressAllow your blog readers to control whether or not a link opens in a new window. You achieve this by not setting the target of the link.

In WordPress, this means choosing the “not set” option for Target when inserting or editing a link.

For those familiar with HTML, this means not using the target attribute.

When opening the link in a new window is necessary, then indicate in the text link that a new window will open; for example:

<a href="checklist.html" target="_blank">accessibility checklist (opens new window)</a>

Have questions? Ask in the comment section below.

For more tips and tricks in creating accessible blogs and content, check out the Blog Accessibility Mastermind.

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4 Responses to Sin #6: Opening Links in New Windows
  1. Lori-ann
    May 6, 2011 | 9:15 pm

    Well, I must say, I learned something new today. Thank you Glenda for this information.

    • Glenda
      May 7, 2011 | 11:02 am

      Great Lori-ann! Then I succeeded today.

  2. [...] I explained why opening links in new windows is an accessibility issue and I offered one technique that announced in the link text that a new window opens as in this [...]

  3. [...] Opening Links in New Windows – Glenda Watson Hyatt [...]

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