How should “Post updated. View Post” links open?

We’ve gone back and forth on this. How should the “View Post” link that shows up next to the “Post updated” (or similar) text work? Should it open in the same window/tab, or should it open in a new window/tab?

The problem with this question is that the people who have really strong opinions in favor of opening the tab in the same window are all power users. They’re people like me. I don’t think I can give an objective answer on this, because manually opening a window in a new tab is a skill that I don’t even think about, I use it so much. I realize that’s probably not the case for many WordPress users.

We’re going to use the honor system on this, so be honest:

Do not vote in this poll if your mouse has more features than two buttons and a scroll wheel, and you know how to use them. Do not vote in this poll if you know what “middle-clicking” is.

I’m abstaining from voting, as my mouse has 7 buttons, one 4-way scroll wheel, and another two-way thumb wheel. :-)

99 thoughts on “How should “Post updated. View Post” links open?

  1. The idea that only naïve users can give an objective view is mistaken. Normal users are just as biased as so-called power users; their biases are merely differently shaped. Interfaces are malleable, yes, but so are the minds of users. Interfaces create users as much as they are created by them.

    We shouldn’t confuse what people do with what they should do. Users form expectations based on the interfaces they experience, and if most interfaces are badly designed (which they are) then their expectations will probably be wrong. We should seek to create interfaces which create good users, not merely surrender to the mistakes other people have made in the past.

    • Perhaps objective isn’t the right word. “Representative?”

      We should seek to create interfaces which create good users

      That’s interesting. At first glance I agree. My inclination is to steer users towards the “Preview” link if that’s what they’re doing, and have “View Post” actually go to the post, like our “View Site” link does. I’m just curious to see what non-power-users think, since power users usually dominate this discussion.

  2. Can’t you have two links? One “view post” link that opens in the same window and another that opens in a new window?
    The one that opens in a new window could be an icon with two windows overlapping or something.

    • In that same place? That seems muddled. We still have the “Preview” link, which has the benefit of reflecting any changes you’ve just made. If you want a new window, it’s probably because you want to tab between editing and viewing.

    • Either open in same window or both “types” of viewing link. All links should behave the same, open in new window is annoying if thats all you got. Such action should really be deliberately initiated by the user I think.
      I always use “open in new tab” anyway some I might not be a “normal” user.

    • That would be redundant. The link should open in the same window, because if a user *wants* it to open in a new window/tab they can do so by ctrl-clicking the link.

  3. Hi all. I am a long time WP user. IMHO I like it when I can have the edit function open in a new window so I can flip between the 2 views.

  4. How about having a facility that allows a user to decide what it does? Then, you could default it as it is now and have some means for overiding that if someone feels strongly enough about it. Would that be a way around a potentially contentious subject.

  5. I know we hate adding new options, but why not let the end users pick the behavior? Or, just filter on the link and let people write a plugin for the “power user”-expected behavior…

  6. Initially I was in favour of having 2 links as suggested by Andreas, but having thought further, how about just one link but with the option to configure it for new window/new tab/same window? I’m thinking of a similar config option to those given for some of the the dashboard widgets.

    • I always middle-click as well, but I voted for “same window.” Links like that should never open in a new window. If someone wants it to open in a new window/tab, let them opt to do that. Sometimes, once in awhile, I do want to have it open in the same window. A target=”blank” takes that choice away from me.

  7. We actually had this exact same discussion on SitePoint about links added to forum threads. It was determined the best method was to open the link in the same window, as that leaves the user with the choice of opening in the same window or shift-clicking to open a new tab or window is they desire. If you force the link to open a new window the user has no control over it.

  8. I would say the same window. Your Browser gives you control over wether you want to do anything different like right click to open in a new window or cmd-click to open in new tab (in Safari for example).

    I tend to open stuff in a new tabs as I hate getting cluttered with lots of new windows.

    While we’re on the ‘which window’ question, I also don’t like the fact that when on the edit post screen (before updating an existing post) the “view post” button opens in a new window. Again, this is something I’d prefer to do in my browser if I choose…

    …there’s always the browser back button to go back.

    • Mark, oh, are you referring to the button right next to the permalink that says “View Post”? I’ve never really used that… What I wrote was about the link in the screenshot which opens in the same window for me in 2.8.6. It’s strange that it does that if its not supposed to.

  9. Dave says:

    I prefer to have the link open in a new tab/window as we do fairly high volume publishing (20-40 new items per day, often added in batches).

    I would add one request for a faster user experience for those of us using WP as a CMS: Give us a choice when hitting the publish button of whether to return to the same story or to open a blank Write Post screen. Perhaps: Publish | Publish & Open New.

    I have hacked WP a couple of times to provide a blank screen on publication, but it always gets overwritten by upgrades.

    This would eliminate a step in workflow and speed us up immeasurably.

    • Dave, I totally agree with you in regards to this. WordPress use to have an option for this back in the day where it had two save buttons: one for “Save” and another for “Save and Continue Editing”. Save would redirect you back to the front-end… I really miss this functionality.

    • Logitech MX Revolution? Better buy a backup while they’re still affordable (I have one still in the box). The replacement “Performance Mouse MX” is horrible. It loses the thumb wheel and the thumb buttons are impossible to use. The whole shell is so sensitive you’ll be clicking all the time accidentally.

    • Oh wow, I just looked up that replacement mouse and it looks terrible. Thanks for the heads-up, I’m off to buy an extra or two on Craigslist!

  10. Open a new tab/window is my preference. I’m one of those who prefer to proof-read my blog using the view. I do this a few times before publishing.

  11. Graphical browsers have had this functionality for quite a long time: Choosing to open a link in a new window. (Or, alternatively these days, in a new tab.)

    On the other hand, forcing a link to open in the same window/tab is not something that, as far as I know, can be done easily. (And I have no idea whether it is possible to do per link.)

    It’s something that should be considered when thinking about what to do with that link.

    To put it the form of a general question: Should web applications preempt options that are offered to users by browsers?

    (As for my personal preference for this particular case, I would like the View Post link to open in the same window/tab. I find the new window/tab behaviour disruptive and annoying.)

  12. CC says:

    New window! I don’t understand why people want it to open in the same window…

    (my mouse used to have four buttons, however, two years ago, it broke and now I’m back to two and a scrollwheel).

  13. What about replacing that link to the way it used to be once? I recall that link used to bring me back to the previous spot (from which I opened up that post) — wherever or whatever that might have been… the Edit Posts tool page, the Pending Preview page (sorted by author), a Category listing, whatever.

    Now we’ve got three “View Post” type of links once we’re finished editing a post: the one above the Title, the one underneath the Title (next to the Permalink), and the “Preview Changes” button.

    I know this might be off topic, Mark, so please accept my apologies. Still, since you’re talking about the “Post updated. View Post” link I’d appreciate to get that “Post updated. Go Back” link back (opening in the same window). :-)

  14. I’m a power user and I prefer the same window.

    While I like the Preview button opening in a new window as I’m likely still writing the post at the time I click it, I’m likely done writing/editing the post when I press the Publish/Save button and that link shows up meaning I don’t need the admin area any more.

  15. gazouteast says:

    errr ….

    what’s a scroll wheel? Strictly 2 button mices here.

    Instead of messing with questions like this (or at the same time as messing with questions like this) far more important topics need addressed – e.g. -

    Give the users the option to turn off post-save versioning – it clogs and fills the database (and UK hosts are positively Scrooge-like with disk space … oops that’s 300 blog posts plus versions, time to buy an extra hosting account).

    Once and for all, please, get the WordPress admin (especially post create and edit) running at the same speed it was back pre-v2.5 – it’s like trying to drive a Ferrari through a mud & treacle avalanche in v2.8.6, and it’s been like that since v2.5, but no devs are listening.

    Gaz

  16. chartinael says:

    What the heck is middle clicking? I tap. My pad has no discernible push buttons anyhow. Only corners. Suits me well.

    on the dashboard I like it fine the way it is … bad thing: I right click to open in new tab and when I find another mistake I edit – causing autosaves of the window where I was originally editing confusing me on the next edit.

    I like the idea of having a small pop-up, very rudimentary, where I can quick-edit. All else I do in the dashboard, but to deal with a minor spelling flaw I’d prefer something simpler.

  17. Ondrej says:

    Woohoo Mark, this is a flamethrower :-) You want to make it easy for novices, but you’d hate to piss the gurus. *Both* are irreplaceable in the ecosystem.

    It was already said a few times: How about to make it a setting in the “Writing” section?

  18. Well, I prefer it opens in new window/tab. Many times you are editing and you want to see how the page looks.

    I would go further and say once the “view post” link appears, there should be another link that says “new post’ and immediately takes you to the new post page and you are ready to add more content instead of going through the menu, etc.

    Thanks

  19. Kevin Cristiano says:

    I prefer it in the same window. I was unable to vote as I have too many mouse buttons.

    However, asking the blogger in the family, She prefers a new window. She does not want to have to open the admin panel again. She’d rather toggle between the two.

    I would not call my wife a novice, her blog has over 4,000 posts so sh’s been at this a while.

    Thanks for asking

  20. I really don’t care because I always force a new window on my own anyway, but I always do prefer opening in a new window — I never close the editing window before I have time to make sure the post looks perfect.

  21. Simple, easy solution…simply EXPLAIN next to the button what set of keys & clicks is needed to open in a separate window. I didn’t know there was such an option, but I read one person say “shift-click” opens in a new window. If that or some other option works universally, simply say so in a parenthetical statement next to the button.

    i.e. –> (shift-left click to open in new window)

  22. dev0347 says:

    I hate, hate, hate with a violent seething passion anything that opens in a new window. First, my antiquated machine at work takes forever to cope with new windows. And, second, why should you get to decide how many open windows I have?

    Those who want a new window have several ways of achieving this, like keyboard shortcuts or right-clicking (even my two-button mouse allows you to do that).

    Forcing all user behaviour for the benefit of the low-end users is short-sighted. It’s been a while since I did marketing at university, but if, as I suspect, a small number of users – your power users – are responsible for the majority of posts, then they’re the users you should keep happy because they generate your ‘volume’ (if that’s the right word here).

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  24. I use open in new tab almost religiously because I like to see my post side by side. Sometimes I have to post because the changes can’t be seen in preview mode, so I’d like it to open in the new tab. I detest open in new window, so having an ‘open new window’ icon next to the ‘view post’ link would be completely useless, which means you’d have to have 2 icons for those who are of the ‘open new tab’ persuasion like me. I’m not in favour of the right click to open in new tab, because quite simply, I detest using the mouse. If I can avoid it at all costs I will, but if not, then as few mouse clicks as possible are required.

  25. Unless I’m messing around with design, I tend to muddle around in the admin area a good bit more than the front end, so it doesn’t make sense in my case that “view post” *doesn’t* open a new tab/window. I’ve got preferences for each option though:

    -If I’m publishing a brand new entry, I want it to open a new tab/window. There are generally other things I’ll be moving on to after publishing, so it’s easier if I don’t get dropped out of the backend and have to click back.

    -If I’m editing a previously-published entry — the majority of the time, because I’m re-reading it on the frontend and find an error, and just click the “edit” link — I want the view post link to just take me back to the page I was on before, whether it’s the individual entry, or the front page, etc.

    All that said, though, I’m tab-happy on the best of days, so it’s no big deal to me to just ctrl-click. It’s just the occasions where I either forget ctrl or have my hands full that it’s a minor annoyance.

  26. John James Jacoby says:

    Disallow post saving all together.

    That’ll learn ‘em!

    ——————–

    I say new window/tab. Why?

    Clicking the back button on your browser to reload the WP admin interface takes longer than closing another tab.

    It’s a safe bet that the only reason to view the post you just finished typing is to see how it looks on your website (previewing after you’ve published, tsk tsk.)

    If your new post looks bad or has a typo or an orphan, the next logical step is to edit that post, which is easier to do if the previous window/tab is already there and you don’t need to wait for the WP admin panel to reload again.

  27. Strict doctypes don’t allow new windows/tabs to be opened for a reason. It’s always best to follow the W3C best practices IMO.

  28. FYI, I haven’t bothered voting as the poll is meaningless to me.

    I don’t want a new tab/window to open because it is annoying, not because I’m finished editing.

  29. Anders says:

    The way it should be done is to let the user decide for himself how he/she wants the link to open. In other words, don’t force a new window upon the user. If they want the preview in a new window, they can always go ahead and ctrl-click, right click the link.

    Or you could simply hijax the link and have the preview contents show in a shadowbox/lightbox/whateverbox.

    Have there been any usability studies made on preview links?

  30. I agree with Anders that users should have a choice and not be forced to open a new window. As he suggests, in case if they want to do Ctrl-click and open a new window.

  31. A new window makes life so much easier especially when you are trying to do edits and review formatting. I love to right click and just open a new tab though. Keeps all those pesky windows to a minimum.

  32. I regularly use open in new tab when clicking the view post or the preview. I don’t think about it either, I just do it.

    - Robert

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