Monday, January 16, 2006

Keeping your visitors [updated]

[As per the comments, there is alot of debate about this tip. If you google, you will get a LOT of heated discussions on record. I would like to point bloggers to a site that is a quickie intro to accessability in web design esp. relating to the visually impaired. Visit here for that.]

We all work hard to make the best blog we can, no doubt. There are many things we have to master to make it look presentable, it all can be so confusing huh?

One thing I suggest to help your blog be more sticky is to direct links to open in a new window. Back in the early days of aggressive "porn" ads, pop ups plagued us but that seems to have settled down a bit (or maybe thats my filter?)

Anyways, to make your links direct your reader's browser to open a new window (and thus not navigate away from your content and be lost to some other site) use this code.

(Note: Please substitute a back carrot (<) for the back bracket ([) and a forward carrot (>) for a forward bracket (]) in the folllowing link code.

[a target="_NEW" href="" rel="tag"]Nika's Culinaria[/a]

and once your do the substitutions, this looks like this:

Let me know if you have any problems with it!



Sam said...

jsut so you know. There are those of us (avid tab users) WHO ABSOLUTELY HATE new windows.

There are two sides to every story.

This has been discussed on food blog scool before, but will have to dig it out later.

paul said...

We've had this discussion before, and I could go on and on about why the reasoning behind wanting a 'sticky' site is bad, bad, bad.

But first I'll correct the html - if you need to open a new window use:
<a href="" target="_blank"></a>

Using "_NEW" works in most browsers but not all. Putting any name in the target quotes will work most of the time for instances when you need a named window, but this is usually better done with javascript.

On to the moral dilemma - you'll find many people don't like you doing things with their windows that they don't expect. You could warn them with a "links open in new window" but they still won't like it.

Also the target link breaks the back button, if they close your window and leave the new one open, they won't be able to come back to you.

Don't worry about trying to keep visitors around with tricks. Provide good content, and worthwhile links, and they'll be back.

McAuliflower said...

This is a usability subject that's been discussed in the past... (so sorry I can't find the post to refer you to!)

I used to be in favor of having my links open into a new window (with the same reasons you give, to keep users), however I was met with some very pursuasive arguments that I now (as an uber user) agree with.
- you don't want to surprise your viewer with an unexpected action as a result of their clicking a link on your site.
- the new window thing is a loss of control that will affect your readers.

I see Sam just commented... she was one of the ones who initially helped me understand how annoying this loss of control to a user is. I hope some of the others who didn't like this feature pop up.

nika said...

I knew this was going to be a hot topic. I had hoped that it might not be a "problem" and it hasnt been, comments here have been good re: that. Each person's blog is her/his own domain and the texture of their GUI is up to each. New windows are perceived in different ways and to be sure, it evolves over time as new users come online that do not know what it was like before.

I know that if a new window had popped up when I was surfing with Mosaic back in 93/94, I would have had a cow.

Things have changed since then, a bit.

I now surf in a way that I find it a useful paradigm to have new windows open as I surf through a search riff. A window that is retained will be of use to me because I did not lose it as I surfed through it. As it is, if I find a particular page of enduring interest, I open it in a new tab so that I do not lose it downstream.

If you all find this original post offensive to the general consensus then I would be happy to delete it.

Culinarily Obsessed said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Culinarily Obsessed said...

This is a great tip & one that I use when posting some of the links on my blog, not so that I can create a "STICKY" site, but so that readers can continue where the left off reading on my blog without losing their place because they want to check out a link I am sharing with them.

I hate when I am browsing a site that doesn't allow right clicking, so I am unable to open a link in a new window or I don't think about doing so & I lose my place & have to hit the back button. Especially with a site that has a substantial load time.

But I also see the argument for not wanting multiple windows to pop up. If you use a browser such as Maxithon or FireFox it's a great idea, if u use a browser such as the standard Internet Explorer or Netscape this code is quite a bit of an annoyance I'm sure. I suppose it's all about preferences.

Sam said...

Nika - not offensive at all - keep the post up - it is good to air these issues.

Just curious - have you used tabs?
I think if you did, you would find new windows extremely annoying.

there are several "Big food bloggers" who use them, and i get pissed everytime i visit them.

As paul maintains - if your site is interesting enough people will come back anyway. Forget about trapping people, just dazzle them with your brilliance instead. I use the back key a lot and it gives me less rsi than shutting all those stupid windows.

I am a big linker of other sites - I do it so people will have other things of related interest to go look at.

If they don't come back, its my fault for not having good enough content, not the window setup.


nika said...

sam: yep, I use tabs alot and new windows. New windows are less anoying to me in some ways than new tabs because you can just alt-tab between windows in a blink of an eye.. with the tabs you have to click (until I find that short cut too)

Ian said...

This is very bad advice and would cause problems for users, particularly those using assistive technology. If you want to make your sticky, then write content that meets visitor needs. It's as simple as that.

nika said...

Ian: thanks for the input. I happen to disagree but the post was not meant as a decree nor command. People take what they need, learn as they may.

By the way, some of us do not write content so much as shoot it. Further, some things are hard put to be fully compliant across all standards. I am sad that my content is not usable to the visually impaired.

Nor is a desire to be sticky an invalid or deprecated one.

This has been an interesting day on Food Blogs'cool, not at all expected and food for thought for any future posts.

Alicat said...

personally, I don't understand the viewpoint of lovely Sam, of being pissed off when visiting blogs that have links that open in new windows.

If it is the preference of the creator, it seems a little extreme to get that upset about a new window opening. I also don't understand the viewpoint of being surprised that a link would open up in a new window...

Everyone has their right to set up their pages however they like, but I think it might be going a tad far to take it so seriously about a link opening up in a new window. No offense to anyone -- just my view point. I respect everyone else's viewpoints as well. ;) If anything, this has been a great learning experience of how other's feel concerning how we all set up or sites and is great food for thought. :)

kitchenmage said...

I've got a handful of links targeted to new windows, usually those that I think people will be looking around after getting there, but mostly not. I control where my windows open about 99% of the time by right-clicking and then picking how I want the link to operate. This overrides any control the site owner put in their code. Firefox even ignores the scripting that disables right-clicks -- the "you can't click here" popup dialog comes up but the click still works.

Nika, you switch between tabs with CTRL-Click, the standard shortcut for swithing between tabs/ and sub-windows.

nika said...

kitchenmage: control-click isnt working for me. :-/

McAuliflower said...

contol-click: you have to configure your browser to accept this trick.

I see this stretching into a classic creator vs consumer/viewer discussion...

Several of the "I don't get the fuss" responses can be classed as viewpoints that are 'creator' centric that disregard the 'viewer' preferences. This imposes a style on the viewers browsing experience that boils down to control.

Sam's initial response summed up my opinion (ABSOLUTELY HATE new windows) as the creator action can inhibit how I the viewer chose to browse.

Hope no offenses are being taken, this is just interesting stuff to chew on, especially when we talk about attracting visitors to a website. They're going to come back and stay *only* if they are rewarded for doing so (new content, creator style not impacting their browsing style, etc).

paul said...

I hope nobody takes a discussion on usability or window navigation personally or gets offended by talk of standards based design.

I get slightly uppity about this stuff only because of years of corporate clients who think the way to be successful on the internet is to disable back buttons, force people to register just to see an 'about us' page, make sure no one can ever leave a site, and if they try, they'll be encapsulated in a frame for the rest of their internet experience. "Oh and can we somehow control the volume on the visitors' computers so the background music is as loud as it can get?"

I also get uppity with the standards-based or accessibilty zealots who command and decree. The web wouldn't be very interesting if we listened to Jakob Nielsen. (Who by the way touches on this subject at the end of his latest article - the goal is no longer stickiness, it's repeat visits.)

Silverbrow said...

Very interesting thread.

I'm a Firefox user who uses tabs religiously. I found it annoying on other blogs (food and not) when I clicked a link and it didn't open a new window. I hated losing my place on the original blog and often I'd forget to go back. Maybe that says the original blog was rubbish, or I'm rubbish but I do like opening links up in new windows. To me, this is not akin to ad pop-ups. Consequently I decided to use the target="blank" code.

However, I'm now reconverted by Sam and Paul - I hadn't realised how annoying some people find it. I'll stop doing it. I think the argument of whether it's a creator-centric or viewer-centric site is important and I simply did what I preferred, assuming my readers felt the same way. The articles on the blog are largely written for me and if the readers enjoy it, that's brilliant. But the site itself, how it looks and feels, is for my readers enjoyment and I need to respect that.

I think the more people who use firefox, or other tabbed browsers, the less of an issue this will become.

On a related point - and maybe it needs to be a new post, what are people's loves and hates when it comes to blogs? Are lists of blogs in the margins useful? Does anyone really use ads? It wld be interesting to know.

Silverbrow said...

Re my comment above, I've just noticed there is already a pet peeves thread.

Alicat said...

I politely disagree that "Several of the "I don't get the fuss" responses can be classed as viewpoints that are 'creator' centric that disregard the 'viewer' preferences."

There are plenty of people who feel annoyed when links *don't* open up in a new window (like myself). You can't make everyone happy. It's pointless to try. Doing what you prefer shouldn't be an insult to anyone else.

McAuliflower said...

When I see an active link on a blog I'm browsing, and want to follow it I simply right click. That way I can open it in a new window or a new tab, depending on the researching I'm doing at the moment.

This is a good eye opener on how tuned in we become with our browser preferences, etc.

Paul, your coperate clients make my stomach flip! Thanks for fighing the good fight for us corporate site visitors!

Sam said...

Ok - why do I hate it?
I often have several things open on my computer.

A few different programmes.

Each of these that is open gives me a little icon at the bottom of my screen so I can select what's what.

I have mozilla or firefox or whatever open, and using tabs, I can have anywhere between one and 20 or more pages of the net open. I usually average around 8, if you are interested.

Now, if each of these was a separate windoww, i would have 8 little icons up messing up the bottom of my computer. There would be toom many and they would get truncated, and then I'd get pissy.

Here's another thing. I am writing a blog post: I am going to be putting quite a fe links into my piece. Before I start writing, I load each of my reference pages, the oes I'll be linking, in a different tab.

Now I can easily switch between tabs to access my reference articles as i create my post.

I find this lots easier and quicker to use and create links from than opening and closing separate windows.

Haing said that, I am delighted to have discovered the ckick right thingy I didn't know about before. NNow even my favourite sticky meisters need not piss me off ever again.

Silverbrow - why don't you start a new thread on that subject. Although the link isnt working for me, I think we have had lots of new members since it was written.

Jennifer Maiser said...

In Firefox, control + click opens in a new tab and overrides the web designers' wish to open in a new window. Or at least that's how mine is set up ... it greatly saves me the annoyance of the new window thing. Ugh. Bugs me.

Sam said...

PS - forgot to mention - how would the new window people feel if they knew that more often than not, I close their new window straight away, regardless of its content, and am less likely to explore their site further? Just more things to think about.

Andrew said...

for once I have to agree totally with Sam.

We did have this dicussion sometime last year. I often close windows before the content has displayed wether I am using firefox or ie.

In firefox with a scroll wheel button on your mouse if you use that to click a link it will open in a new tab.

going back to the original post I did read somewhere that the method shown to open a new window was 'the' moden way to do so. It doesnt always work though.

s'kat said...

Eh, I am just simple folk. I right-click to open preferred sites in a new window.

If not, then not so much so. But really, still, not so big a deal.

nika said...

wow "new window people" thats a first for me. been called alot of things but that one is novel.

"new window" is not a theology nor does it keep me up at night.

L Vanel said...

In firefox you can also set your options so that links always open up in new tabs if you like it that way. :)

I like new tabs at the top but not new windows who each have their own set of tabs... It is time consuming to keep shifting up and down and in between.