[whatwg] Target Attribute Values

Matthew Paul Thomas mpt at myrealbox.com
Sat Apr 28 02:34:37 PDT 2007

On Apr 28, 2007, at 5:29 PM, Bill Mason wrote:
> ...
> I can tell you my experience at the company I'm currently working for,
> as to why they mandate using "_blank" in some circumstances.
> (Disclaimer: I don't endorse the policy, I just have to live with it.)
> ...
> 1) Fear that the user will follow some link away from our pages, and
> never return to complete the form.  (I think this comes from sales
> and/or marketing personnel.)

A common solution to that is to minimize links on the form, even to the 
point of removing most global navigation. Sometimes form-specific links 
are necessary (e.g. "By submitting this form you agree to our __terms 
of service__ and __privacy policy__"), but links like those should use 
named targets rather than _blank (because if someone opens one of those 
links twice it's a mistake, they don't actually want two copies open).

> 2) Complaints from users who would follow the surrounding links
> elsewhere and then lose their way back to the application form.  (This
> would primarily occur when they started the application form -- which 
> is typically multiple pages -- and go off following some other link to 
> find some piece of information about the application process, finally 
> losing their way to how they got into the form in the first place.)
> In both cases, I have no idea why the back button isn't enough for
> everyone involved, or how people got lost in spite of having a back 
> button.
> ...

Because the Back button is a horribly awkward interface for navigating, 
especially for getting back to pages you visited a few minutes ago. (In 
some browsers the Back button has a visible associated menu, but it's 
hard to open -- and it relies on page <title>s, which readers probably 
didn't notice when first scanning those pages, again because of poor 
browser design.)

Matthew Paul Thomas

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