Week 20 Technical Service Bulletin - Indicating that a link opens in a new window

13 May 2019

Helen Grimbly

Helen Grimbly, Support Lead

This week, Support Lead, Helen Grimbly will be looking at links that open in a new window, and how to improve their accessibility.

Often a link on a website is set to open in a new window. Some use this so that links to external sites open in a new window believing this will help to keep users from leaving the website. This technique is all about informing users that a link will open in a new window, before they open it.

The objective of this technique is to avoid confusion that may be caused by the appearance of new windows that were not requested by the user.

The target attribute of a link can be used to open a new window. If a user clicks on a link and it suddenly opens a new window, this can be disorientating and the change of page can even be missed. WCAG 2.1 accessibility technique H83 relates to this.

So for example, for the following link: 
<a href="https://blog.example.com/" target="_blank">Blog</a> 
- one way this could be resolved for H83 would be to add text such as "(opens in a new window)" to the clickable link text. If this is not possible or acceptable then the text could perhaps be added to the title attribute instead, e.g. 
<a href="https://blog.example.com/" target="_blank" title="Blog (opens in a new window)">Blog</a>

The H83 diagnostics do not affect the accessibility (or overall) Sitemorse score.