Should links open in new windows/tabs?
On her blog One Cool Site this week, timethief listed some good sources for blogging tips and one in particular piqued my interest. It discusses how and why to have WordPress widget images open in a new tab or window.
While I’ve rarely dealt with widget image links, the article did get me thinking about external links in general, which appear in most of my posts. Author Molly Greene suggests that having your links open in new windows/tabs helps keep readers from inadvertently leaving/losing your blog when they close those tabs, since the tab for your blog will still be open. Makes sense.
When you set up links in WP, there is an option to “Open link in a new window/tab.” As a rule I’ve not checked it. It’s another step and I saw no compelling reason to do it. I base that on my own browsing habits. I don’t normally close tabs to return to the blog I was reading; I click the back arrow. I don’t recall now, but I may have developed the habit precisely because in the past I had inadvertently closed blogs I was reading.
However, if having those tabs open makes so much sense, why do we have to manually choose that option? Why isn’t it the default? Is it because we might want external and internal links handled differently (new window for external links but not for internal links)? I’d be interested in knowing why WP opted for the current configuration. What are the advantages/disadvantages of having links open in new windows/tabs? I’d also be interested in hearing your preferences and reasoning. Do you go with the WP default or do you set your links to open in new tabs/windows? Why? Do you handle internal and external links differently?