It still amazes me every time we do user testing on a website. Sometimes it’s funny. Sometimes it’s sobering. But, for the most part, it’s educational and valuable. Watching someone use the site you’ve created is one of the most enlightening things you can do. The site either does its job, or it doesn’t. And, you can typically find the spot where everything falls apart.
One of the behaviors I have noticed over and over again is the confusion created for some people when a link opens up a new window. While the purpose of the new window is typically to make sure the site visitor can easily return to the site, for less savvy web users it does the complete opposite. Suddenly, the back button doesn’t work. They don’t know why. They have a really hard time finding the site again.
Bad! Bad! Bad!
Paraphrasing Steve Krug, don’t make them think.
If you want people to stay on your site, give them something to stick around for. Don’t open up new windows. Tech newbies will be confused by it and tech superstars will scoff at your attempt to keep their attention.
What do you think? Are you passionate about spawning new windows or eradicating them from the face of the earth?