Don’t Trap Me In Your Website

Social media gurus (insert the level of snark you wish) will tell you that “hashtags are all the rage” and “retweet everything so people know what you believe in.”

They’ll also tell you that the kindest thing you can do to the lovely people who have taken the time and effort to find your site is to trap you there with links that only open external windows and tabs.

But why? I ask. What rationale, other than vanity, is suitable to compel visitors to never “leave” your website?

The web is built from links. It is the very core of what it is. When people click on a link in your website, they are making a conscious decision to follow the path that you have laid out for them.

This path that you have provided could be to another part of your site, but it’s just as likely to be a link to a whole other corner of the web. You put the link there; you’ve made that decision.

Leave it at that. Don’t hijack your visitors’ experience by controlling the link-clicking experience. It’s easy enough for them to open a link in a new window or tab if that is what they choose to do. It’s easy enough for visitors to click “back” after following a link in your blog if they want to return.

If you value your visitors, let them make that decision for themselves.

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