Links and new windows

 

When opening a link it is best to open it in the same window or tab where the user currently is. Opening a link in a new window causes three main problems.

  • Screen reader users, screen magnifier users, and users with certain cognitive impairments can become disoriented when they are taken to a new window
  • The use of the back button, the most used button within the browser, is broken.
  • Certain user agents, like kiosks, are unable to open new windows or tabs.

Users have the ability to choose if they want to open a particular link in a new window or tab.

There are times when it is appropriate to open a link in a new window, such as when launching a Web application. There are some cases where you do not want the user to be able to back out of an application. If you do open a link in a new window you need to alert the user that you are doing so.

There are a number of solutions to this problem.

checkmark-smallUsing text to alert the user that the link is opening in a new window.

Source Code

<a href="http://accessibility.oit.ncsu.edu" target="_blank">NC State IT Accessibility (new window)</a>

Implementation

NC State IT Accessibility (new window)

checkmark-smallUsing an image with alt text to alert the user the link is opening in a new window.

Source Code

<a href="http://accessibility.oit.ncsu.edu" target="_blank">NC State IT Accessibility <img src="images/new-window.jpg" alt="opens in new window"></a>

Implementation

NC State IT Accessibility opens in new window

checkmark-smallUsing an image that is only visible on :hover and :focus that alerts the user the link is opening in a new window

Source Code

a.ncsu-a11y-link-new-window img {
    border: 0 none;
}
a.ncsu-a11y-link-new-window span {
    height: 1px;
    left: -999px;
    overflow: hidden;
    position: absolute;
    top: auto;
    width: 1px;
}
a.ncsu-a11y-link-new-window:hover span, a.ncsu-a11y-link-new-window:focus span, a.ncsu-a11y-link-new-window:active span {
    background-color: #FFFFFF;
    border: 1px solid #888888;
    border-radius: 5px 5px 5px 5px;
    display: inline;
    height: inherit;
    left: inherit;
    margin-left: 0.5em;
    padding: 0.2em 0.2em 0.1em;
    position: absolute;
    top: inherit;
    width: inherit;
}

<a target="_blank" href="http://www.ncsu.edu" class="ncsu-a11y-link-new-window">External link<span><img alt="opens in a new window" src="images/new-window.jpg"></span></a>

Implementation

External linkopens in a new window

x-smallThe user will be taken to a window when clicking on the link and will not be notified.

Source Code

<a href="http://accessibility.oit.ncsu.edu" target="_blank">NC State IT Accessibility</a>

Implementation

NC State IT Accessibility