TL;DR: With browsers having built-in “Open link in new tab” functionality, it doesn’t make sense to break a basic web idiom (the back button) on a whim (of web designers who configure links to automatically open in a new tab or window). This site therefore does not open any links in new tabs/windows. If you want that, use “Open link in new tab”.
As Kyle Mackie pointed out on LinkedIn:
I hate to break the news that just because you like links to open in new windows, that doesn’t mean it’s a good design idea.
#accessibility #dontbreakthebackbutton #hopewecanstillbefriends
That of course sounds like a random opinion (who is Kyle Mackie anyway?), but it did prompt another user (Andrew Pheonix) to post a link to a blog post he wrote ten years ago with a clear explanation why opening links in a new tab is bad design.
The crux of the argument is that those for whom it is most convenient (super-savvy users) don’t need it, for others opening new tabs invokes a degree of frustration or is “the single worst thing on the internet”. And the final set of users don’t know what is wrong when the back button is broken, don’t know how to handle new tabs, and are quite likely to give up on browsing out of sheer frustration.
Now you might be wondering what it means that the ‘back button is broken’. Part of the answer is that when a link opens in a new tab then pressing the back button does not take one to the previous page, it does nothing. Especially for neophyte users, or those with limited interfaces (e.g. disabled users) this is a huge disservice. Even for a very savvy user like myself, it is irritating when I get a new tab and I didn’t want it. If I want a new tab because I’m interested in following the link later (but not now), I know how to find “Open link in new tab” in a “right-click” menu. I don’t need someone else deciding for me to open the link in a new window.
Conversely, if I’m actually wanting the follow the link and leave the page, there is no reason to keep the old page around. From the web site operators point of view, having me not leave when I actually leave gives them faulty analytics.
One final note: A web link that does not open a new tab might look something like
<a href="/post">Blog</a> while opening in a new table might look like
<a href="/post" target="_blank">Blog</a>. Notice the
target="_blank" when opening a new tab and you will understand from whence comes the title of this post.