Awards Criteria Question

So I was browsing through the awards criteria for the website award, and it all seemed pretty straightforward and logical until I came to this question: Structure and Navigation: Do links open new, separate browsers windows?

I thought about it, and I couldn’t decide it the meaning was that all links should open new windows, or none should. I can see a case for both sides- having links open in new windows can be useful when you’re directing to another website, but if every link in your navigation opens a new window, it won’t take the user long to have filled up their entire toolbar with just your site.

Is this just finding a happy medium, worded strangely? Any thoughts?

I noticed it before and thought about it. I think it just applies to links directing to another website (like you said). It wouldn’t be very convenient to have every link on your site to open in another window.

That’s what I assumed too. Or actually expanding on it, I thought it meant: “Do intrasite links stay within the same window/frame, while intersite links ‘break’ frames and/or open a new window.”

I would hope they meant to say:

Do EXTERNAL links open new, separate browsers windows?

Typically when designing a site, any external linking should open new browser links, not internal pages on your site.

Wow, that’s unfortunately-worded to the point that the website judges themselves are going to struggle with it.

Some web design theory here: Using the analogy of a book, the text of manuscript is the HTML, the bindings, typography, and imagery are the CSS, and your eyeglasses are the browser. Why do I need another pair of glasses to read Chapter Two?

Good semantic HTML coding never, ever, opens a new window. Ever. Any consumer with half a brain, perhaps less, can do that himself when he wants to, and can tell when he’s leaving a site (thus negating the helping hand webmasters might think they’re giving when they open external links in a new window). It’s almost pretentious to say that your website should remain open for some reason when someone clicks on a link (a link to what they really want to see), but at least when it’s an external link using a new window makes *some *sense.

As a site controls the client’s user interface, more and more confusing things are liable to occur. In this specific case, the site also breaks the Back button. At the very least, a warning (even an icon beside a link) should inform the user that the HTML document is about to take control of his browser. While I acknowledge and agree with the fact that new windows are a personal decision on the webmaster’s part, if he wants to code cleanly, and strictly by the book (where HTML is just semantic information, CSS is presentational, and the user agent is a reader), he must not use new windows or popups. I doubt most of the website judges will know or pay heed to this however.

I believe this is why some sites are that annoying - they need to satisfy all levels of users, including complete idiots.

I think it’s also a “flow” issue. The designer may intend the user to view a certain external site as a sidebar according to the “flow” of the site’s content, and that after the user is satisfied with scanning over that outside information, he/she would close the extra window and continue with the content.

It’s also a somewhat effective promotion tool in a sense. If the user is forced to click Back to look at the content again, that user won’t have as much of a desire to view that external link again as having an extra window around.

Where can I find the awards criteria for web site design? I am helping some teams with their websites, my web development philosophy may differ from the judges’, so I want to know what they are looking for.

Thanks for you help. :slight_smile:

Section 9 of last years manual.

The PDF for it is here

The information starts on page 30. There’s a chart that the judges used. Its on page 32 if I recall from memory correctly.

Standard disclaimer: All that could change for 2007. Don’t say we didn’t warn 'ya. :slight_smile:

Thanks Michelle!!! Billfred, It may but its good starting point, thanks for the heads up… :slight_smile:

Browsing through 2006 Best Website ( might answer a lot of questions regarding this thread.
Personally i think its only better to have your outside resources open in a new window. As I’ve said, Team 461’s website is the best example i can find. They deserve it well, and have set an example for the rest of the teams.

I must disagree here. Opening a new window or not should be by design and intent. Not as rule of thumb.

If the intent of the link is informational, and by design the web page thats called up references the information on the linking page then the link should open a new window (example: a link saying “our robot” opens a new window {appropriately sized} with a picture or our robot).

If the intent is to navigate away from the website then no new window should be brought up (Example: a web-ring link for FIRST teams).

External links should only open up a new window if the user is expected to return to the linking page.

Also never assume the computer literacy of your viewer. Many people with very little competence with computers browse the Internet.

Personally, I don’t think that it’s a good idea to have all external links open in a new window but FIRST wants it that way (see the website section in the awards document) so that’s why does it.

Generally I think that no links should open in new windows. Firefox has a wonderful feature where it opens a new tab instead of a window like IE. The internet is full of links. It would be stupid to have ALL external links come up as new windows. That is why most people don’t do it. But if its the cretira, we have to put it unless we want to be docked 5 points. To me this is just another stupid rule you gotta follow but you know its wrong. - see how anoying that is.

Wrong. Good semantic HTML coding would be easily understandable by a screenreader, such as using ordered lists for navigation bars and header tags for titles. However I do feel the same way that sites should never open a new window by default, but i believe that there should be an option to. To the person who brought up the design and intent point, thats kind of right, but your first priority should be accessibility, not design. Opening and closing windows for small amounts of information like just displaying a photo is amazingly disorientating to a blind user (no joke intended with the photo and blindness thing). Just try using a screenreader to navigate your site, if you can’t do it, don’t expect a blind person to. You already know whats on your site, but he won’t.

You are correct that accessability, ease of use, and intuitivness (spelling???) should be a major part of the design. The link to “our robot” in the above example should have read “picture of our robot”. Thus a blind person would not need, or want, to click the link. And, yes, I have worked with people who have needed screen readers

As far as whether or not a link should open another window is still designing for intent. Informational links, where the user is expected to come back to the main page, should be done by opening another window. Whereas if the user is not expected to return to that page, the browser should not open a new window.