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View Poll Results: Will CNN's new method for marking links that open new windows going to be effective?

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  • Yes, it will be very effective.

    2 33.33%
  • It will only be effective to regular users.

    3 50.00%
  • Not really.

    1 16.67%
  • You should never open links in a new window!

    0 0%
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Thread: CNN's new method for marking links that open a new window

  1. #1
    Moderator
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    CNN's method for links opening a new window

    CNN has always had the policy of opening links to external sites in new windows. They typically give some text to let the user know what's going to happening before clicking one of these links:

    Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
    External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.
    Now they've instituted a little icon () to let users know that the link is external and will open in a new window.

    What do you guys think? Will it be effective? Or should links never, ever open in a new window (as ol' Nielsen likes it)?

    Scott

  2. #2
    Modding with Class JabezStone's Avatar
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    I think regular members or occasional browsers will pick up on the icon, but new visitors will be confused.
    It is a good idea, however, because regular users will automatically identify, at a glance, a link that will open a new window.
    This type of familiarization speeds a surfer's time.

    As far as opening in a new window goes, I like the idea. I, for one, almost always right click and "open link in new window", because I simply can't stand to use the back button and wait for my previous page to load back up. (even though I'm on cable, there is still a wait.) I would rather close my new window when I'm done, and be instantly back to my start page. This is how I surf the boards here as well.
    Actually, I will open several threads at once, then read and close them one by one. I just hate waiting .

    -Jay

  3. #3
    Senior Member dlowe93's Avatar
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    Re: CNN's method for links opening a new window

    Originally posted by nocrapchurch
    What do you guys think? Will it be effective? Or should links never, ever open in a new window (as ol' Nielsen likes it)?
    Scott
    Funny, i have the exact opposite attitude about linking to new windows as our friend Mr. Nielsen does. I counsel my clients that any link to an external location (other site, referenced link, etc.) should be in a new window. Why would you want to potential customers to leave your site when they click a link that takes them out of your site? If they are done, the will have to close the window and "oh, there is your site again, where i came from", but they certainly don't have to hit the back button.

    The scenario as i see it:
    1. Client clicks on link to see a product, partner or other link hosted on an another site.
    2. Client is done viewing, closes window instead of hitting "back", or continues to surf elsewhere.
    3. Client has to open new window, type in URL, and possibly navigate to return to where they were before they linked out.

    Right there between steps two and three is potential to lose customers. Might make more "useability" sense, but so nuff doesn't make marketing sense, but that's just my two cents.

    d.
    dlowe93

  4. #4
    Moderator RazoRmedia's Avatar
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    I like it and I think it'll catch on more and more. I have always used external links and always will, Nielsen is simply wrong on this one.

  5. #5
    Senior Member dlowe93's Avatar
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    Originally posted by RazoRmedia
    I like it and I think it'll catch on more and more. I have always used external links and always will, Nielsen is simply wrong on this one.
    I agree with Jabez. I'm a control-clicking multiple-thread-reading kind of guy.

    d.
    dlowe93

  6. #6
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    I think Neilson raises good points, but I think he goes WAY overboard.
    If he controlled the web, it would look boring, lifeless, and listless.

  7. #7
    Part Time Goth TianaKaeSha's Avatar
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    I have to say that any links to outside sources should be opened in a new window.

    I think it is a great idea on CNN's site.

    By letting people know they are opening an external site they are following he w3.org usability guidelines too. *I am doing usability at the moment*

    I like the idea and may in fact use something similar when I redesign our website.

    --T
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  8. #8
    they call me the_jump... le_saut's Avatar
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    I right click links and do "Open in new tab" nearly all the time now.
    Can read about 5 boards here at the same time in one window doing that.

    Cheers
    James

  9. #9
    Monkey Wrangler monsterfx's Avatar
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    I also tend to do a lot of "open in new window/tab" surfing. I hate having to find my way back to the site I was on when being referred to "additional" information on another site. To me it makes perfect sense to open an external link in a new window. Adding the icon should just reinforce the understanding of what is going on.

    -monster.

  10. #10
    Moderator
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    Originally posted by monsterfx
    I also tend to do a lot of "open in new window/tab" surfing.
    Alright, all you window-opening designers. Sure, you understand how that works and it is even helpful to you. But what about the average surfer at home? I have yet to see my wife, parents, or anyone else in a non-computer related career open a link in a new window.

    Scott

  11. #11
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    Alright, all you window-opening designers. Sure, you understand how that works and it is even helpful to you. But what about the average surfer at home? I have yet to see my wife, parents, or anyone else in a non-computer related career open a link in a new window.
    Yeah, but once they learn of the capabilities - chances are they wont browse any other way.

  12. #12
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    I've got to agree with nocrapchurch that non-technical people never seem to be aware of that functionality - and I don't think people will be aware of it unless they surf a great deal. Also don't think that if you show it to your average user they will be very impressed

    If anything, they get confused - so the point of writing that links will open in a new window acts more as a warning/explanation rather than to highlight that particular feature. I've seen it so many times that people are surprised when they close the window to find the old site still sitting there - or they re-type the url or re-click in their favourites to go back and get annoyed because the 'Back' button doesn't work anymore.

    I think the CNN icon looks more like a file-download icon, not exactly the best design choice...

    - n.

  13. #13
    Monkey Wrangler monsterfx's Avatar
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    Originally posted by nocrapchurch
    Alright, all you window-opening designers. Sure, you understand how that works and it is even helpful to you. But what about the average surfer at home? I have yet to see my wife, parents, or anyone else in a non-computer related career open a link in a new window.
    OK, Scott. For the sake of discussion , let's stand that one on it's head. I'm sure most people didn't know what the back button was when they started browsing the web. Maybe this is a chance to help train less technical web users on the possibilities of browsing in multiple windows. Just a thought. I'm always trying to find the balance between usability and pushing users to learn/try new techniques and paradigms (OK, I just wanted a legit opportunity to use a big word ).

    The more I think about it, I do agree with enemem that maybe there could be a better icon. Maybe a tooltip type mouseover would help make the point more clear.

    -monster.

  14. #14
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    another interesting side to this debate:

    as far as I remember the XHTML specs don't allow the 'target' attribute inside anchor tags, you should use javascript in order to load the page in a new window.

    As far as I can see, the thinking is that you shouldn't force the new window on the user, since you are dictating the way they browse - there's no right-click 'open in same window' after all.

    I haven't used CNN in a while, what would be nice is if you can click on the link to open in the same window and click on the icon to open in a new window (or is that how it works?)

    - n.

  15. #15
    proud new daddy! LuxFX's Avatar
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    Originally posted by RazoRmedia
    I like it and I think it'll catch on more and more. I have always used external links and always will, Nielsen is simply wrong on this one.
    I'm in total agreement. I also open links in new windows, so it doesn't really matter to me how CNN does it. But I do think using icons to warn users of a new-window link is a good plan.
    For War's a banker, flesh his gold. There by the furnace of Troy's field, Where thrust meets thrust, he sits to hold His scale, and watch the spear-point sway; And back to waiting homes he sends Slag from the ore, a little dust To drain hot tears from hearts of friends

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  16. #16
    An Inconvenient Serving Size hurricaneone's Avatar
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    I think the CNN icon look as if when you click it, it'll lead you onto more text. That page outline with lines on it is a pretty univeral A4-type icon, and what else is usually on A4, other than text?

    Also, why would novice users even have the choice to open a link in the same window? - that is bad design, not opening a new window for a link. What does Nielsen think? - we're all still running DX386s with monochrome monitors. The guy's a dinosaur, and unless he decides to up his common denominators, he'll end up being irrelevent.

    And there's still more...
    Why would you want to potential customers to leave your site when they click a link that takes them out of your site? If they are done, the will have to close the window and "oh, there is your site again, where i came from"...
    That's about right on the money, dlowe93
    Stand by for emergency synapse rerouting

  17. #17
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    Well, on my home machines, opening links in new windows works out great. It is a fast computer.

    But one of my machines at work isn't so fast. And coupled with the company-installed anti-virus software, its even slower. Something as simple as browsing the web can be a pain in the butt especially when new windows start popping up.

    Now you're probably thinking that the machine I'm talking about must be ancient, but its not. Its actually got a 700 Mhz processor in it.

    -scott

  18. #18
    An Inconvenient Serving Size hurricaneone's Avatar
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    Originally posted by nocrapchurch
    Well, on my home machines, opening links in new windows works out great. It is a fast computer.

    But one of my machines at work isn't so fast. And coupled with the company-installed anti-virus software, its even slower. Something as simple as browsing the web can be a pain in the butt especially when new windows start popping up.

    Now you're probably thinking that the machine I'm talking about must be ancient, but its not. Its actually got a 700 Mhz processor in it.

    -scott
    http://www.blackviper.com

    Check this guy out - he'll show you how to stop the autorun of those memory-intensive addons (Messenger, anyone?) that no one uses. Then you can use your 700Mhz to it's fullest advantage. (kidding, kidding...)

    And anyway, scott - where else do you get this plethora of windows popping open, except when you're surfing the free pr0n pages, hmmmm?

    Stand by for emergency synapse rerouting

  19. #19
    Moderator
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    Originally posted by hurricaneone
    And anyway, scott - where else do you get this plethora of windows popping open, except when you're surfing the free pr0n pages, hmmmm?

    Not too funny.

    http://www.weather.com/ and http://www.drudgereport.com/ to name a few.

    -scott

  20. #20
    general rule bender Gloomycus's Avatar
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    Neilsen can marry me and have my children!
    Last edited by RazoRmedia; 10-16-2002 at 06:34 PM.

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