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You MUST have an option to allow links to open in a new tab. It's 2021.

Hi,

 

I've looked around many posts, and seems like for some unclear reason, a world-class wiki solution such as Confluence doesn't allow writers of documentation to have hyperlinks open in a new tab, instead of redirecting the current page. This is terrible for user experience and again, is pretty shocking that such a widely used wiki solution doesn't allow such a simple feature outside of HTML/macro hacks.

Sorry but this is mind boggling, please let me know where this is on your roadmap. We're deciding between confluence and dokuwiki for our company wiki and everything factors in.

 

Thanks.

2 answers

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Answer accepted

Why?

Everything I've read about user experience says there are only three times you should open a link in a new tab

  • When navigating away from the current page would interrupt what you're doing (a click while watching a video, when you're part way through filling a form, or the link is to "further reading later, after you've finished this page" for example)
  • When you're really opening a new application to do something like fire up a video call or download
  • When the user specifically asks to 

The third rule is paramount - in most cases it should not even be up to your authors to force it.  Let the reader choose, don't create yet another tab without warning or choice.  Almost every regular user of the web has "tab fatigue", don't make it worse.

At best, this is a "nice to have" when you have good well trained authors who know when to use it.  So it's not really on the roadmap for Confluence, there's far more useful things to be done.

Yes, you hit the nail on the head - point number 1 is an extremely valid and prominent use case. Not every user is tech savvy enough to know to right click and open in a new tab, not to mention that this is poor UX as it's more clicks and mouse coordination.

> point number 1 is an extremely valid and prominent use case.

I'm with you on valid, less sure about "prominent", but I still want to question frequency (and hence actual usage)

What are the use cases for doing it?  How frequently do they come up?   Is it really the best UX to pop yet another tab or window?   

I've just been through the joy of a UK tax return, where there's a lot of help and explanation needed on a lot of the fields.  Most of the help is done as explanatory text and a pop-up if it gets too long, and the pop-up contains links that open in new tabs when it gets really complicated.  My accountant tells me there are sixteen of these, in a system that has 11,000 possible questions.  These are unquestionably good uses, but a "useful" rate of 0.14% in a system where people already expect to have to be reading related material - really?  Is that useful?  On top of that, that system saves at the point of leaving a field, so if you accidentally navigate away from a page, you don't lose anything more than what you might have typed half an answer in.

>Not every user is tech savvy enough to know to right click and open in a new tab

Yes, you're right.  But try the "parent test".  Neither of mine are tech savvy.  My father is a lost cause, won't touch a computer, but my Mother sees the uses and has been "on the internet" for a lot longer than most would guess.  She's not an expert.  She types some communications, searches and browses, reads stuff she's interested in, books and buys things, does some banking, etc.

She's your audience here.  Not tech-savvy, just an end-user.

Every time I visit them, I get asked if there is a way I can set up her computer so that it stops opening new windows or tabs.

>poor UX as it's more clicks and mouse coordination.

Yes, a new tab or window does create a need for more clicks and co-ordination.  That's exactly why you should minimise them, and only do it when the user asks.

Thanks for the thought that you've put into this Nic. I've reflected on your response and considered the fact that Wikipedia itself follows the same model and so I think what you're saying is reasonable and that I'll consider this matter resolved as something I just needed clarity on. Thanks for providing that.

@Nic Brough -Adaptavist- can I add that there are times in our documentation that we link to pages outside of Confluence. And in those times we do need the link to open in a new tab. I completely agree with what you said about keeping the Confluence experience consistent, but I would love a setting at the page level, and at the global level that said, check for URL, if URL is internal keep in tab, if URL is external, open in new tab.

I'm mostly with you on the "other system" thing.  A link to a system outside the current one does make sense to open in a tab or new window.  "hey, look at this other thing (that is not owned by us)" works fine for most humans.

It is only internal links that it would be stupid to automatically open in new windows.  

External links are not as binary, it does make sense in a lot of cases to trigger a new window/tab.

But, to continue with the "parent test" I rambled about, my parents hate sites that "open in new window".  Without warning.  They're fine with sites that stay in the same window when they click, and they're fine with links to other sites that put something that tells them that the link is external.

Never do "see www.thing.com"

Always do "see www.thing.com <indicator it's going to be a new window/tab>"

Like # people like this

The "parent test" makes sense for sites like Amazon who are serving every user type. I'd be curious to know who the target audience is of Confluence considering I only use it at work. I've never seen a Confluence page out in the wild. It's a perfect match for Jira which in our case is used by developers and web savvy users. I think it would be nice to see more custom settings for our power users who understand the web.

Like fabdolhosseini likes this

It makes sense because the vast majority of web users use it the same way my parents do, albeit massively more than mum!

I've got no problem with "open in new tab" as an optional setting, as long as every link has a visual indicator that it's going to happen, it's a personal setting (not inflicted on me by the author or system), and it defaults to "off"

Like # people like this

Thanks for continuing this discussion. I support the optional setting. Nic, not sure how the process works - would you be able to please give us a reference number or something for the associated ticket so we can track?

Did we not just agree that it can be added as an optional setting with the visual indicator? So are those going to be re-opened or a new ticket created?

I said I'd be ok with it, but I'm not an Atlassian product owner. 

The requests I've found are all closed with "won't fix" and I doubt they'll be re-opened as most people don't need or want it.

Is there a backlog item to give the customer the choice of being able to open in a new tab when composing the article?

Not a backlog item, no, just a pile of issues with "closed, won't fix" type resolutions.

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