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I work on a college website and I need to link to a faculty intranet from the navigation. This is a change from the current setup, so I'm just wondering if I need to warn the faculty that they are leaving the site. Another option would be to have the intranet open in a new tab. Is there a best practice for this?

  • Is there a separate faculty login on this site before access to the intranet is granted? Or is the login on the intranet itself? – Alan Jun 2 '15 at 19:47
  • I believe if they are signed into their faculty account for the main site, it will not prompt them when going to the intranet. – Reanna Jun 2 '15 at 19:53
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Universities (as with very large corporations) have many departments and I rarely have come across a use-case where informing users that they are going to a new section was necessary.

Assuming your users are logged in then I would recommend a seamless transition to the faculty intranet. I assume that, by design or otherwise, the intranet will have a different look and feel than where they were before.

If the faculty member is not logged in then he would have to log in to access the intranet.

I would strongly recommend against opening a new tab. It is horrible usability. Imagine if the library and each department opened a new tab when navigating there. The back button and all sense of continuity is lost.

I think this quote by Jakob Nielsen is still relevant today:

  1. Opening up new browser windows is like a vacuum cleaner sales person who starts a visit by emptying an ash tray on the customer's carpet. Don't pollute my screen with any more windows...If I want a new window, I will open it myself!

Designers open new browser windows on the theory that it keeps users on their site. But even disregarding the user-hostile message implied in taking over the user's machine, the strategy is self-defeating since it disables the Back button which is the normal way users return to previous sites. Users often don't notice that a new window has opened, especially if they are using a small monitor where the windows are maximized to fill up the screen. So a user who tries to return to the origin will be confused by a grayed out Back button.

tl;dr I don't think there is any reason to tell the faculty member that they are entering the intranet. If they clicked the link by mistake they can easily walk back out.

  • Thanks for your input. Yes, the intranet has a different look and feel so that is probably a sufficient indicator. I would say there are times when it is appropriate to open in a new tab. I agree with the quote -- but opening a new window is far more annoying than opening a new tab. I guess I am of that thought that if I am opening an intranet, I am starting a new task. So to have to click the back button several times to get back to where I came from feels annoying. However that may be my personal preference getting in the way. – Reanna Jun 2 '15 at 21:46
  • Reanna - the quote applies to windows and tabs equally. It's less the physical appearance of a new window than the lost navigation that comes from it. Not to mention the annoyance that this action was done without your permission. – Mayo Jun 2 '15 at 21:49

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