Should you open links in a new tab?

Continuing Discussion from: GUI request: link option "open in new tab"

Can’t you just middle-click (or, for Mac users, whatever that is)?

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Yes, but forcing the page to open in a new tab gives the reader no choice. Whereas just setting the link allows the reader to choose how s/he wants to open it.

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Middle click on what?

  1. type text
  2. Click on “add link” icon
  3. Enter URL

Where are suggesting I middle-click? On the “add link” icon?

Assuming they know that trick. :smiley: It’s not something I was aware of till now.

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Middle-click on the hyperlink in the front-end. In other words, the current setup has the the site admin or editor simply add the hyperlink. Then the reader decides for him- or herself how s/he wants to open it.

I hate it when bossy site admins dictate to me how a hyperlink will open.

Yes, but forcing the page to open in a new tab gives the reader no choice.

There are a bazillion things that the writer chooses for the reader. It’s good form to not send the reader to an external site in the existing window (you want to keep them on your site and allow them continue reading).

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No. The current setup allows me (the writer) to choose whether to have a link open in a new tab or not. It just takes extra clicks to do so (it used to be on the front of the link-edit box, not hidden).

I have a meeting right now, then I’m off to sleep. If I have to, I’ll argue the value of “new tab” links tomorrow.

Then please argue against this doc:

In short, forcing hyperlinks to open in a new window or tab is bad for accessibility. If the reader has no problems with such behavior, s/he can choose it for him- or herself.


Yes, this is a debate that has been had many, many times already on the WP side.

Most people who build websites frankly don’t know very much about accessibility. Generally we shouldn’t make changes to the core platform that are likely to lead to less-accessible websites.

I think my preferred solution here would be to add a little “external link” icon next to off-site links (with appropriate text for screenreaders), and keep them in the same tab. This is a very standard visual cue (example), and it gives advance notice of an off-site link in a consistent way. The user can then recognize this cue and choose whether to open a new tab or not.

Under the current code structure of ClassicPress this responsibility is probably best left to the theme, or perhaps a small plugin would work reasonably well for the majority of designs.


This is the proper way to handle it. The decision should always be left up to the user. On Windows, they can Ctrl+click (new tab) or Ctrl+Shift+click (new window).

If you’re compelled to force the decision on the user, you can always add target="_blank" rel="noopener" to the anchor tag manually.


Then please argue against this doc:

You mean that link that just opened in a new tab? Okay

But the debate isn’t whether or not to open new tabs. Opening external links in a new tab is a standard practice for business and journalistic sites, built on solid business logic. CNN does it, NBC News does it, the Washington Post does it.

If CP is going to be a business-focused CMS, it needs to look at how the tools are actually used by businesses–and then make it easy for them to do what they do. (“Quality is conformity to customer requirements”)

The tool to choose “open in a new tab” already exists in the GUI. It’s “hidden” an extra click away (in the Visual Editor, but not in the Text Editor). Putting it back in the front of the link editor changes nothing for you. But it makes the interface more friendly for the businesses who choose to follow the standard of “external links in new tab”.


The linked article is 7 years old and doesn’t even take into account noopener – it’s outdated.

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This assumes, of course, that the user is aware of the choices and how to select them.

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The linked article is 7 years old and doesn’t even take into account noopener – it’s outdated.

That’s sarcasm… right? That’s you making fun of kids who have no attention span, right? I’m going to assume that’s sarcasm. Because the reasons that business want a link to open in a new tab haven’t changed in the last 7 years.

The “noopener” tag does exactly zero to change the user experience. And the associated “noreferrer” tag is openly hostile to business sites that use referrer information to decide where to direct their marketing, advertising, and sales budgets.

If you’re going to present yourself as “the business-focused CMS”, you need to forget your own preferences and agendas, and start paying attention to how businesses think, and how they use a CMS.

If ClassicPress is going to tell businesses how they should do things instead of listening to what businesses want, it’s going to fail.

It’s not sarcasm. You linked an article that it’s almost a decade old to make a point about the current state of accessibility and UX. That article was talking about how browser tabs were going to change the game. If we never evolved in the way we think about things, we’d all still be putting butter on burns.

The noopener tag is for security, not UX. There is no requirement to use a noreferrer tag with noopener. This is a straw man.

I’m not ClassicPress, I’m a business user and developer. I mirror back your statement on preferences and agendas – if you’re going to present yourself as an expert on UX, then you’ll need to forget your own preferences and agenda and start paying attention to how UX is correctly done today, not how it was done yesterdecade when UX was more of an afterthought.

There’s lot of examples where businesses don’t necessarily know what is best for their own site or users…like the Rule of Thirds, color theory, and use of whitespace. Or, would you file all that under preferences and agenda, too? (There’s a bit of sarcasm, for reference.)

Anyway, you’re not going to change the minds of anyone who has watched and participated in this very debate for years. Your remedy, for lack of a better term, is to create a petition. There’s still a chance it could get in, even if it’s a bad idea.


I accept that not every user knows how to Ctrl+click. There are a lot of keyboard shortcuts people don’t know, but, we don’t make exceptions there and build controls into our pages for them.

For example, lots of people don’t know that Ctrl++ and Ctrl± zoom the display in and out… or that Ctrl+0 puts the display back to 100%. Still, we’d never dream of putting actual controls in our page to do this.

Or, we can flip the script…

Let’s say a business owner has poor eyesight and wants zoom controls built into the page; it would be irresponsible of the developer to not educate the client on the fact that there are tools for this and it doesn’t belong on a website.


Blaze is highlighting the difference between what is some theoretical “recommended accessibility procedure” and what makes good business sense. It doesn’t really matter what good accessibility practice is in that case… if it is a business site, then the bottom line is that you want to maximise your return. And if sending people away from your site by opening a link in the same tab is bad for business then it is clearly something you shouldn’t be doing. It’s a straight-out business decision. If a business owner was given a choice between accessibility and making money then I know what they will choose every time.

No-one is saying that any of these controls should be “built into” any page. There is already a tick box within the link set up process that allows you to set the link to open in a new page. The article that Tim linked to suggests some cases where it is a good idea (like a T&C link on a checkout page). All Blaze is suggesting is that we move that existing tick-box to higher up in the process.

You could argue we are improving the accessibility of that tick box. :laughing:


It’s really UX that we’re talking about (more than accessibility)…and the act of forcing a behavior on the user in an attempt to squeeze a few bucks out of them. What if a user doesn’t want a new tab or window? You will have taken away the user’s ability to choose. It’s really just an attempt to hold them captive…and it seems desperate. On the other hand, if you open the link in the same tab/window, then the user has the choice, as it should be. :slight_smile:

If a business owner is worried about losing business because they aren’t using new tabs/windows for external links, then s/he should revisit their content strategy and the quality of products and materials they’re producing. Users will find their way back…but, only if the content is high quality. If the content/material isn’t worthwhile, holding the user captive isn’t likely going to make a sale.

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People keep talking about “reader” and “user”. Try using “customer” and “shopper” instead. That might change your view point.


Changing the terminology doesn’t make it any more correct. :wink: It is what it is, no matter what name you put on it.

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