Techniques for WCAG 2.0

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G200: Opening new windows and tabs from a link only when necessary


Pages that open new windows

This technique relates to:


The objective of this technique is to limit the use of links or buttons that open new windows or tabs within Web content. In general, it is better not to open new windows and tabs since they can be disorienting for people, especially people who have difficulty perceiving visual content. However there are some situations where it is preferable from an accessibility perspective to open a new window or tab. Here are two such situations:

  1. Opening a page containing context-sensitive information, such as help instructions, or an alternate means of completing a form, such as a calendar-based date picker, will significantly disrupt a multi-step workflow, such as filling in and submitting a form, if the page is opened in the same window or tab.

  2. The user is logged into a secured site, and following a link to a page outside of the secured scope would terminate the user's logon. In this case opening external links in an external window allows the user to access such references while keeping their login active in the original window.

It is recommend that when links are opened to a new window, there is advance warning.


Example 1: Online Form

An online form provides extensive context-sensitive help for each form field on a separate page because there is too much text to include within the form. The links to the context-sensitive help open in new windows or tabs to prevent the loss of any form data that has already been entered.

Example 2: Secure Web site

A page on a secure Web site includes a link to an external page that is outside of the secure session. The link opens in a new window or tab since opening the link in the same window will break or destroy the secure session.

Example 3: Date Picker

An online form includes a date field that allows the user to manually type in the date or select a date from a calendar-based date picker on a separate page. The link to the calendar-based date picker opens in a new window or tab to prevent the loss of any form data that has already been entered.


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Beware of opening links in a new window

Not opening new windows

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