Blog / Target blank

I’m delighted to see Marco Arment weighing in on the open links in new window debate. I’m fully on his side and couldn’t help chipping in my own two cents on Hacker News. There’s a weird fetishism people have about “keeping the user on our site” that smacks of hubris to me.

Be humble! Remember Jakob’s Law of the Internet:

Users spend most of their time on other sites. This means that users prefer your site to work the same way as all the other sites they already know.

How to know if you should be using target="_blank" in your anchor tag? Here’s my golden rule:

Once the user clicks your link, will clicking the back button return them to exact spot on the page they were at before, with all the data still in the form fields they care about?

If the answer is yes, don’t use target="_blank".

If not - because the user is filling out a mortgage application or the site you link to breaks the back button or you foolishly implemented infinite scrolling - then sure, target blank that sucker.