HTML and CSS Reference
The Target Attribute Exposed
This week's interview:
Using target considered bad?
Head First: Hello, Target! We're so glad you could
Head First: How does this help with screen readers
Target: I'm glad to be here. It's nice to know you're
still interested in hearing about me.
Target: You mean browsers used by the visually
Head First: Why do you say that?
Head First: Right. Some screen readers play a
sound when a new window opens, but others just
ignore the new window completely, or else they jump
right to the new window immediately. Either way, it's
gotta be confusing for someone who can't see what's
going on. I have no idea how they are handling tabs.
Target: Well, to be honest, I'm not as popular as I
used to be.
Head First: Why do you think that is?
Target: I think it's because users want to be in
control of when a window opens. They don't always
like new windows popping open at unexpected times.
Target: [Sigh] Yeah, we just aren't there yet in
terms of providing good tools that meet everyone's
needs, especially the visually impaired. That said, we
seem to need to have the ability to take the user to
pages outside our own site, and many sites do that
by opening another window (or tab, if the browser
Head First: Well, it can be very confusing — we've
had complaints from people who end up with so
many windows on their screens, they can't find the
Target: But it's not like it's difficult to get rid of the
windows…just click on the little close button. What's
so hard about that?!
Head First: Yup. We need you, but we need to get
better about not confusing the user.
Target: I'm hoping the web standard and browser
teams will make all this better.
Head First: True, but if users don't know a new
window has opened, then they can get confused.
Sometimes the new window completely covers the
old window and it's hard to tell what's happening.
Head First: I guess for now we're just going to have
to remember to use you when it's appropriate, but
to keep in mind those people who might be visually
impaired and not overuse you.
Target: Well, browsers are getting better at this kind
Target: You got it. You've helped ease my burden a
bit here; thanks for helping me get the word out!
Head First: How so?
Target: Browsers often open external pages in a
new tab, within the same browser window, rather
than opening them in a brand-new window.
Head First: Any time, Target!
Head First: Ah, yes, that would help because it
will be a lot less confusing to see a new tab open,
which the user can visit whenever they want. Unlike
opening a new window, it isn't so disorienting.