It is often the small things that are the most contentious in a community. As a vigorous debate on the LinkedIn ‘Intranet Professionals’ group showed, "should links open in a new window?" is one such topic.
While these discussions echo the policies established for public-facing websites, intranets may require very different approaches.
Even on public sites, browsing the web shows that practices have changed greatly over the last few years. Previously, any link to an ‘external’ site (managed by another organisation) would open in a new window (or a new tab, in modern browsers). On government sites, there would even be an intermediate page, warning that ‘you are leaving this site and we are not responsible for the content that you may read’.
On recent websites, links opening in new windows have become much rarer, suggesting that both practices and user expectations are changing. So what should be done on intranets?
There are a wide range of policies that could be put in place:
- all links open in the same window (no new windows)
- links to public (external) sites open in new windows (or new tabs)
- links to systems or applications open in new windows
- links to documents or other non-web content open in new windows
- any link that takes the user away from the current task open in new windows
- links to other internal ‘intranet sites’ open in new windows
[September 2010 one-pager by James Robertson, read the full article]