We regularly get clients asking us to open new links in a new window, usually when linking to external websites or booking screens - we always strongly resist and here is why.

1 - It is generally counter productive

The main reason clients resquest opening links in new windows is that they perceive it will leave their website open in the background and therefore users are more likely to come back to their site, in fact the opposite is true.

Users leaving to go to booking screens or other websites in fact lose the Back Button and History in their browser making it less likely they will come back to the original website and more likely they end up back at their favourite search engine.

The original site will sit in a background window or an another tab until the browsing session is over and they have completed their task (booked their holiday for example) or got bored.

This problem is even greater in tablet devices such as the iPad, as window management is more basic.

2 - It disempowers the user

By forcing a certain behaviour from a link different to what would be expected, you are in part destroying the mental model that the user has of where they are and what they need to do to get back to where they were before.

More information

For more informaiton, see some people that know more about this kind of thing than us....

Usability experts - UseIt - see number 9 in "Top 10 Mistakes in Web Design

It is also well explained at these sites: