I have encountered users (and myself) who feel that at times when clicking on links it can be surprising when things open in a new window or tab and they didn't expect that action.

I believe it would be useful to inform users that you will open that link or that button opens in a new tab or window.

Is providing this feedback generally assumed to be valuable, and if it is what are some novel ways to inform users that the link opens in a new tab or window?

So there are alot of icons for this for buttons like the following

enter image description here enter image description here

but what about in the scenario for plain text links? A hover icon comes to mind but that wouldnt be provide feedback for most touch devices( mobile, tablets etc).

  • I always argue that we shouldn't open links in new windows, but if we must, I typically use the arrow icon--even on text links.
    – DA01
    May 22, 2015 at 17:57

2 Answers 2


Yes, it's good to inform users

...particularly if there are mixed links on the page (some open in new tabs and some don't).

One popular way to denote new-tab links inline is to use an icon as follows: inline icon link

If you're developing using CSS, this can be done in a way that fails gracefully for text-only or accessibility browsers. You can insert an :after sprite, inline img tag, or render the <a> tag using padding and a background image...depending on what you are trying to accomplish.

  • +1 thanks for adding the technical details about the implementation. I appreciate the contribution along with your wealth of contributions the past few months May 29, 2015 at 2:47
  • 1
    happy to help Bob, I really enjoy your posts too!
    – tohster
    May 29, 2015 at 4:59

I think if the link will be redirecting to a different site, then it's helpful to convey this information to the user by means of an icon. The second icon in the question is apt for such cases.

If the link will be redirecting to same site on the domain, then opening the link in new tab is not required.

For plain text links, a small icon just next to the icon, should convey that the link will be opened in a new tab. This icon can again be configured to show on hover for big screen, and show permanently for small ones.


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