FW: No new browser windows... ever??

Subject: FW: No new browser windows... ever??
From: "Cook, Jenise" <jenise -dot- cook-crabbe -at- pacificlife -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2002 14:45:45 -0800

Dan Hall sent this to me personally, however, I think it merits being
included in the Archives. -Jenise

-----Original Message-----
From: Dan Hall [mailto:dhall -at- san-carlos -dot- rms -dot- slb -dot- com]
Sent: Wednesday, February 13, 2002 12:16 PM
To: Cook, Jenise
Subject: RE: No new browser windows... ever??


Yes, I'd still apply the "No new windows" rule.

Usability is usability. :-)

Neilsen's point (which I agree with, for once) is that
opening new windows causes problems both with user
perception ("Hey! What's this thing doing?") and
navigation.

Another point is that this is not the _expected_
behavior of hyperlinks. Even though we've all
experienced the nightmare of a seemingly endless
series of new windows, a new window is an unexpected
behavior. Hyperlinks are _supposed_ to open the link
in the same window. That's why we have the context-
sensitive right-click menu with "Open in a new
browser window."

For help users, the navigation issue is especially
problematic. Since users often don't know exactly
what they're looking for, they need to be able to
quickly peek at a topic, say "Nope, that's not it"
click "Back" and look through the index for another
likely choice. Opening a new window requires them
to close the window, switch the OS focus back to
the help index, and then continue. Even if you've
worked to make your index and help easy-to-use,
loss of navigation is something of an issue.

Even more troublesome (to me) is the "navigational
trauma" (Alan Cooper's words, not mine) that users
suffer when new windows open. It requires a mental
shift from "I'm looking at the help index" to
"Hey, a new window is opening" to "Oh, this is
the topic I clicked."

Just my $.02, though maybe worth $.03, since I
worked in interaction design in a previous life.

Cheers,

Dan

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