Links should not open a new tab
WCAG guidelines state that links should only open a new tab “when necessary”.
Why opening a new tab is bad for accessibility
- New tabs are unexpected, unpredictable, non-default browser behavior.
- New tabs break back-button history navigation.
- New tabs are disorienting for some visually impaired users.
- New tabs take away user control. Users can opt-in to a new tab with keyboard or mouse controls, but cannot opt-out.
Acceptable reasons to open a new tab
- Yes: Navigating away will disrupt a multi-step workflow. For example, context sensitive help links on a form.
- Yes: Navigating away will break a secure login session. For example, a banking transaction session.
Unacceptable reasons to open a new tab
- No: A link is “external”, and leads to another website or domain.
- No: The website maintainer wants to avoid losing user traffic to other sites.
- No: A new tab will be convenient for the user (other than the two acceptable reasons mentioned above).