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Opening in a new tab

Open in a new tab infrequently and carefully!

Opening in a new tab breaks the browser’s back button and breaks the users flow. So:

  • choose when to open in a new tab carefully;
  • tell the user that you’re opening in a new tab;
  • make the link text clear.

When (and when not) to open in a new tab

A good rule of thumb for not opening in a new tab is if the main menu or navigation is the same on the two linked pages.

  • NNG say: “There is generally one good reason to open a page in a new window, and that is that the user will need to refer to that content in order to complete a task in another window.”
  • The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines say: only open a new tab when necessary:
    • opening a page containing context-sensitive information;
    • following a link to a page outside of the secured area would terminate the user’s logon.

How to tell the user you’re opening in a new tab

Add an external icon in the link text, at the end. Add a text alternative “opens in a new tab” for the icon in: the title tag for an svg; the alt attribute for an img.

Also check out the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines: give users advanced warning when opening a new window. This can be with text in the link, or with an icon.

The link text should be similar to the title of the target page. This is especially important for links that open in a new tab.