On desktop, the most commonly used practice is for external links to open in new tabs.

On mobile, tabs are less accessible and I have serious doubts that the average user knows how to use or frequently uses tabs on Safari and Chrome.

Does anyone have any learnings, anecdotes, or research showing what behavior is preferable on mobile web?

Thanks!

  • "On desktop, the most commonly used practice is for external links to open in new tabs" Really? At one stage I thought this was pretty firmly established as bad UX (with articles like this) but maybe my web UX knowledge is from a bygone era – Harry Wood Jun 8 '16 at 22:52
  • The article talks about new windows, not about separate tabs in the same browser window. I think it is completely different thing since most of the concerns from the article are not valid in this scenario. I personally like new tabs on desktop and I know a ton of people who do too, but I can't say much about mobile unfortunately. – Ovidiu Berdila Jun 9 '16 at 4:04

I'm partial to still opening new tabs. The advantage to opening a new tab is allowing the user to fork their browsing session like the would on desktop. Most mobile browsers (at least Chrome) have the back button set up to close the new tab to maintain the linear flow for the user if that's how they're navigating.

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