When we recently created a social navigation bar for one of our clients, we were asked for the links to open in new tabs, instead of redirecting to the link URL. This raised a debate in our team about which approach was the best. Here are a few of the points made:
- Users never actually leave your webpage
- Any filled form fields won't lose their data
- There is user-initiated media playing for instance: music, video, a podcast.
- Users are familiar that when using a link they will be redirected and they can come back through the back button.
- In a mobile device, opening a new tab is even more disorienting for the user
- Users can actually open a link to a new tab, by pressing middle click, right click open in new tab.
For us, the cons outweighed the pros, but that is often subjective, a matter of personal opinion and totally situation-dependant. Think of this, for example: if you redirect to Gmail, browsers go through some pages into your history in order for the back button to redirect you again to Gmail, so you won’t lose any input or drafts. In this case, a new tab is probably preferred.
Of course, if the client knows immediately what she’s after, we implement her directions and move on. If not, we try to explain the issue and our views and let her decide. If she can’t, we step in and offer our insights. After all, meeting the client needs is always about communication.
And you shouldn’t need to open a new tab to establish this properly.
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