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  • Hyperlinks, new tab or same tab?

    Posted on access-mdb Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Home Forums Developers, developers, developers Web design and development Hyperlinks, new tab or same tab?

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      • #2223968 Reply
        access-mdb
        AskWoody MVP

        When linking to an external site is it better to open in a new tab, or open in the same tab? This forum has a mixture (which is probably the worst option!) For example, the BBC and others I’ve been involved with open in the same tab but Twitter opens in a new tab.

      • #2223973 Reply
        Alex5723
        AskWoody Plus

        When linking to an external site is it better to open in a new tab, or open in the same tab?

        For me in is much better to open links in a page in a new tab. That way you don’t lose the original page. Out of habit I always right-click on links and select ‘open in New Tab’.

        2 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2227844 Reply
          Ascaris
          AskWoody_MVP

          For me in is much better to open links in a page in a new tab. That way you don’t lose the original page. Out of habit I always right-click on links and select ‘open in New Tab’.

          Same here.  You can also hold down CTRL while you click and it will do the same thing.  For me, middle clicking the scroll wheel is awkward and ends up doing unwanted stuff like scrolling at the same time.  It’s easier just to use the context menu or CTRL.

          It’s even better if the browser has the capability (with addons or otherwise) to open the new tabs in a useful way… for me, that’s to have any related tabs open just to the right of the parent tab, not allllll the way over on the right of the tab list, as browsers typically do as the default.  That way, I can see which tabs are related to the tab I am currently using.  In addition, I have always enabled the option to mark the unread tabs that I can see which ones these are, so that I know that all of the unread tabs to the immediate right of the current tabs are the ones that I just opened.

          Firefox had long had an actual “unread” status for new tabs, which (in conjunction with addons like Tab Mix Plus or Classic Theme Restorer) allowed easy customization of the appearance of unread tabs to be as obvious as the user wanted them to be. After Firefox became Firefox Quantum, these addons no longer worked, so there was no simple way to use the unread tab state to style the tabs, but the custom stylesheets written by Classic Theme Restorer author Aris did the job, allowing the unread tabs to once again be visually distinct from the other tabs.

          Then, one day Mozilla decided that “no one uses” the unused tab state, since the options UI in Firefox had no references to it, and they’d removed the ability for addons to modify the UI with Quantum, so they couldn’t use it either. Mozilla had neglected to notice (or they did notice, but made no mention of it when they argued that “no one uses it”) that while their decision to break all the addons that allowed UI customization meant that it was now more fiddly to change the appearance of unread tabs, it was still very possible to do via userChrome.css, and that a number of people were doing so, with the heavy lifting already done for them by Aris.

          Mozilla’s conclusion that “no one uses” the feature was wrong, and it is my guess that they did, in fact, know that userChrome.css could make use of the unread tab state (how could they not?  They’re the developers), but that didn’t stop them from removing it from Firefox.  Mozilla’s quest to remove every feature that makes it better than Chrome in some way continues.

          Other browsers still have that option out of the box.  Vivaldi has this option available with no addon, and I think that may also be the case with Opera (which is not currently installed on the computer I am using, the G3, so I can’t easily check it, but I seem to remember that it does).  There may be other Chromium-based browsers that have added this feature too.

          Waterfox (classic) retains the unread tab state, but like the Firefox versions that had that feature, there is no settings UI to change the appearance of the unread tabs.  The addons I mentioned above (Tab Mix Plus or Classic Theme Restorer) that still work with Waterfox Classic will make it easy, though, and userChrome.css can do it with no addon if that’s your preference, as used to be the case with Firefox (including Quantum, until recently).

          For other browsers, including current Firefox and Chrome, an addon can work around the lack of this feature, and while it won’t add an actual unread state, it can simulate it, and it does work.  Tab Flag in Firefox, and Unread Tab in Chrome, will do the trick.

          Some people like Tree Style Tabs, which I’ve tried, and it also has its own unread tab state that is a good replacement for what Firefox used to have.  If not for Tab Flag on Firefox, I’d certainly use Tree Style Tabs, but since I found Tab Flag, I’ve found that a better fit for my browsing style.  Tree Style Tabs definitely has the edge if you want to organize multiple levels of parent and child tabs, but most of the time, I don’t really need that much organization (which comes at the expense of a good bit of horizontal screen space).  YMMV, of course (for those not familiar with YMMV, it stands for “your mileage may vary,” a reference to the gas mileage claims for car advertisements in years past.  In this context, it means, more or less, “opinions may vary”).

          Group "L" (KDE Neon User Edition 5.18.5).

      • #2224018 Reply
        tonyl
        AskWoody Lounger

        Long ago I got into the habit of middle-clicking. That way, you always know what it’s going to do.

        2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2224070 Reply
        anonymous
        Guest

        Hi access-mdb, when surfing as a consumer of web pages designed by others, I routinely request links open in new tabs. But I have observed that is not a universal desire.

        I do not design, so only have suggestions to consider. My first thought was in terms of writing prose, always consider your audience. This helps set vocabulary and style for your article. But websites are for all, and opinions vary.

        So again I turn to the ancient writing tools and ask you if there is or are things called style manuals in the trade of web design? Writers have several, often contradictory, style manuals to consult. Relying on one might still be critiqued as wrong, but it gives you a reference to maintain a consistent rule across your own compositions.

        Whichever you use, I will continue to override by taking control for myself and selecting my preference. The habit is so ingrained, I sometimes do it when not necessary.

      • #2228344 Reply
        Bluetrix
        AskWoody MVP

        When linking to an external site is it better to open in a new tab, or open in the same tab? This forum has a mixture (which is probably the worst option!)

        I like a new tab, no need to roll page back, you don’t leave existing site. Presently I right click links and select open in new tab.

        I always click open in new tab when including a link on AW.

        tab

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      • #2231788 Reply
        access-mdb
        AskWoody MVP

        Thanks for all your comments. My audience is an older demographic – retired or semi retired and not all are computerate. If we have them open in a new tab, they may end up with a lot of open tabs; the opposite, they might close the tab and wonder where their website went. I just need to ensure we are consistent with what we do (why does Woody not open in one way or another?)

        • #2231889 Reply
          anonymous
          Guest

          Woody’s blog articles would be one discussion of consistency. I haven’t paid much attention myself. It is content created and within complete control of the publisher. The AskWoody website probably has an internal style manual.

          If you are noticing that Forum commenters often use a mixture of same or new tabs; that is because the WordPress software offers each guest the option on every link. Bluetrix spotlighted that dialog box option above. Since so many commenters have different opinions, sometimes for different instances, you see a mixture of link styles in the Forums.

          For instance, that link for Bluetrix’s name directs to #post-2228344 on this topic page. Even though I normally demand my own new tabs, I chose to have this one not trigger a new page. Because the linked content is on this page. (Quote is not a button available to anonymous guests) That is my own choice of style when contributing content. When I link to a different page within this domain, or certainly when hopping to a different domain, I would choose to open in new tab. As stated by others, this preserves the source tab without reloading later. Especially important on pages with “live” content that may change before reloading later.

          I agree that you should have a consistent rule for your own designed webpages. But where you to interact with consumer created content you should expect a wide variety of styles submitted.

          (I am #post-2224070)

        • #2231988 Reply
          Ascaris
          AskWoody_MVP

          My audience is an older demographic – retired or semi retired and not all are computerate. If we have them open in a new tab, they may end up with a lot of open tabs; the opposite, they might close the tab and wonder where their website went.

          This would seem to be one of those instances where it would be necessary to have more information before suggesting anything.  In the months and years preceding the release of Windows 95, Microsoft underwent an ambitious UI testing regime, consisting of users of various levels of expertise, to see how they actually used the PC and the elements within the Windows UI.  They learned that a lot of the assumptions that the UI designers of Windows 3.1 and previous versions had made about how people would perceive the UI options were not true, and they incorporated this knowledge into the much-improved Windows 95.  They never would have known how their users were perceiving the UI without the research.

          Computers are not inherently simple or easy-to-use, and certainly not easy-to-use well.  A designer of a given OS, application, or web site can try to simplify the options as much as possible, but there comes a point that no further simplification is possible without causing other problems, like having important features obscured or removed for the sake of making things easier for total beginners (looking at you, GNOME 3!)

          To cross that line would mean to stop being maximally “simple” and to start being “simplistic,” and that’s not helpful.  If we’re to use the trusty “riding a bike” analogy, we note that the point of training wheels is training, after which they’re meant to be removed.  A simplistic UI, though, is like training wheels that can never come off.  Training wheels are only beneficial for a short time while learning to ride, and afterwards, they would just get in the way, and to leave them on would mean they continue to get in the way for a much longer period of time than they were ever useful.  Trying to bake the training wheels into the UI (whether it be the UI of an OS, an application, or a web site) is counterproductive.

          I know that the question was a relatively simple one about what to do with hyperlinks, not about the principles of UI design, but it all ties in to the same point that you can’t really design around the need for knowing how to use a computing device.  For the seniors in question to be able to browse web sites adequately, they will have to understand the concepts that entails, like hyperlinking, new tabs/windows, and being able to use the forward and back navigation buttons.  These are really basic concepts that must be understood to use the web well.

          As you’ve indicated, both solutions have potential (and quite realistic) possibilities of issues as perceived by older, less computer literate audiences.  I don’t know which one will prove the least confusing to the target audience, but it’s nearly certain that either one will confuse some of them.  Until they learn what the training wheels are meant to teach, they’re going to experience this, and there’s no real solution other than to learn.

          Group "L" (KDE Neon User Edition 5.18.5).

          2 users thanked author for this post.
          • #2232076 Reply
            access-mdb
            AskWoody MVP

            It looks like we will have to have a guide about this in our regular newsletter. With all our groups, outings and speaker meetings cancelled, we’re using our website more and more to inform our members about how they can still do things together (virtually).

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