Target attribute on websites

The target attribute was originally designed for sites that use frames, but in recent years it has been abused.

There are 4 defined target presets which come in handy for many web designers of all levels. They are _blank, _self, _parent, and _top. You can also specify a descriptive name with the underscore( _ ).

  • _blank will open a new browser window with no name.
  • _self will replace the current html page, so if it is in a frame or frame set it will load within that frame. If it is the full browser, it will open to replace the page in the full browser.
  • _parent will replace the html page it came from.
  • _top will load in the current browser by replacing anything within the browser such as a frame set.

Retaining visitors

There is a misnomer in the web design industry that if all external links open in new windows, the user is more likely to come back to their site.

Anyone who has seen many people using the internet will know that this is false. Many users are not aware if the link they clicked opened a new window. They just carry on using the browser window that is in front of them.

Back button

When you open an external link in a new window, the back button will not take the user to the previous page. If they do try to return to your website, they do not understand why the back button does not work.

When a users back button does not work, they will often think that there is a problem with your site since other sites seem fine. You have lost another visitor.

Browsers supporting tabs

There is a new trend in web browsers to have all the browser windows in tab. When a web designer forces a link to open in a new window they break this idea.

User choice

Just because you always right click and select "Open in New Window" does not mean that your visitors will do the same. Firefox allows you to right mouse click to open in a new tab and other browsers let you use mouse gestures.

If your visitors want the link to open in a new window, let them do it as some people do not want the extra window.

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