Friday, August 5, 2005

Default Target - Revisited

Well, it seems that some people really don't like the opening of links in another window. You see, I posted how I do that the other day. And I understand their problem with it. The most common reason I've received is that if the user wants to open links in another window, they can by CTRL-click in Internet Explorer or right-click in Firefox/Mozilla. But, I don't buy that.

Want to know why?

Yes, We Are All Different

Well, I got a question for you. How many people knew that? C'mon, raise your hands. Okay, good. Guess what? A lot of people didn't raise their hands. Know why that is? Many, many people don't bother to learn all the shortcuts. Just because I know about something doesn't mean you know about something. And just because you know about something doesn't mean I know about something. And just because you and I know about something, doesn't mean everybody else knows about something.

Different Equipment

Let's look at another example. What's you screen resolution? Mine's 1024x768. What's yours? Higher? Okay, guess what? Just over 22% of visitors to this little blog have a higher resolution. A little over 56% use 1024x768. The rest? 800x600 (20%+) or lower.

So, just because you might user a higher resolution doesn't mean others do. W3 Schools shows stats similar to what I find here, so I'm not that much off the norm.

Not everyone has the newest technology you have. And not everyone knows all the little tricks you know.

Different Knowledge

Lots of people don't know keyboard shortcuts. Like CTRL-A, CTRL-C, CTRL-X, and CTRL-V. As common as these are, lots of folks don't know them. More than you might think.

Since I've been using computers since the early 1980s, I learned a lot of CTRL-key shortcuts, because that's all there was.

Different Browsers

Oh, what about your browser? I use Firefox. I really like it, and prefer it to Internet Explorer (IE). However, I have to make sure that anything I do on this or any other Website I deal with is able to support Firefox/Mozilla and IE.

And, I've made some compromises. People with older browsers, such as Netscape 4 or IE 4 don't see everything like I want them to. And, yes, people using those older browsers still visit. But they don't stay, because things don't display properly for them.


And that's a compromise I've made. I use code that doesn't work with them. But that only affects one-half of 1% of the visitors here. And that's in line with W3 Schools stats.

But, I try to worry about the ... gosh, this phrase doesn't sound good, but it's accurate when referring to older technology ... lowest common denominator. I've abandoned support for IE 4 and Netscape 4. And, quite honestly, for resolutions less than 800x600 too. About 1% use 640x480 or lower.

I would be in error if I assumed everyone had the same resolution I had. Or if I assumed everyone had the same browser I have. (Some have even visited using Internet Explorer 7! Yes, it's still beta.)

I'd also be in error assuming everyone knew all the tricks about opening links in new windows.

On the other hand, if I decide to make all links (except links to other pages on this site) open in a new window, some might not like that. And, if I decide to allow those that want links to open in other windows use the shortcuts, I'm ignoring those that don't know how. And, potentially losing visitors.

Why Open In A New Window?

You see, the reason I want "off-site" links to open in another window is purely selfish: retention.

If links open in the same window, they might not come back. I want you to stay! Please stay!!

Okay, so what to do?

You've Convinced Me — Sort Of

I'm giving in. I'm turning the option over to you. Anyone can, at any time, open in a separate window by using the mouse-shortcuts. But, I've gone one step further. I'm still setting the default for target="_blank" ... but I'm allowing you to change that.

Some I Set The Default

Sure, for some links, I'm putting the target="_blank" in there anyway and you can't do anything about that. Headline News, for instance. I make the links to the "real" news open in a separate window, if you want to read the headline in its proper context. But, the standard links, like the non-headline posts, still will usually rely on the page default. There may be exceptions to that, but that will be the norm.

Some You Set The Default

And you can set the page default. I've already set it to target="_blank". But, if you look at the top left column, you'll see that you can change that.

Truce For Now

Happy now? Some of you, probably not, I'm sure. But that, I think, should handle the objections you gave. If your real objection is that I don't do it like you do ... oh, well. For the right price, I'll sell you this blog -- $145,000,000 -- and you can change it to do like you want. But seriously, those that have objections to the way it's been done have valid points. And I think letting you set the default covers that.

Now, if you want to know how it's done, that's for a future post. Expect it tomorrow.


  1. I appreciated your _blank information. I'm playing with it now. My last couple of posts should open in separate windows when you go to an external link.

    BTW, why must I open a window outside of SharpReader to log in and comment? Or is it just me?

  2. I'm not quite sure what "outside of SharpReader" means, sorry. It could be Saturday morning fogginess messing my brain up.

    Clicking on Sign In should open the TypeKey page in the same window, then bring you back to the page you were on after signing in. If you're experiencing something else, I'd like to know about it.


Please choose a Profile in "Comment as" or sign your name to Anonymous comments. Comment policy