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Best blogs send audience away

Jeff Jarvis writes “The problem with portals is that they aren’t portals at all. …They want to lure you in and then not let you leave.”

When Yahoo was young, cofounder Jerry Yang told me that his site’s job was to get you in and out as quickly as possible. That certainly changed. Now Yahoo licenses and creates content and services to keep you in front of its ads as long as possible; it is known for collecting and not sharing traffic. I say that Yahoo is the last old-media company – still trying to get viewers to come to it – but it is successful because it is unencumbered by presses, towers, talent contracts, and other media legacies…….

Contrast this with Google, which does still try to get you in and out quickly. It makes a fortune by putting targeted ads on many of the sites it sends you to. Thus its potential is unlimited, for the more content there is, the more Google has to organize, the more we need Google to find what we want, the more its ads can appear everywhere, and the more it earns.

Some of the best blogs are what Buzz Bruggeman describes as intelligence agents. They post what they believe would be of interest to their target audience. Look at Steve Rubel’s Micro Persuasion or Dave Winer’s Scripting News. Read their blogs. They cover the globe for their readers by sharing via links what they read and hear. Mixed in you’ll get their strong commentary.

LexBlog still gets clients saying they want all links on their blogs to open a new window. Why? Because they fear people will leave their blog. Is that nuts or what?

Want to tick people off? Have your links open new windows. Have users click to a number of links on your blog so they now have 8 or 9 windows open. Make it difficult to browse because the back button can’t be used to browse because every link is a new window. You’ll have people unsubscribing from your blog in a New York minute.

Your blog is not going to become all things to all people on a niche topic. If that’s your goal, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Be a success by sending your audience to what’s of value to them. That’ll guaranty they’ll keep coming back to you for more.

  • http://www.thebloggingtimes.com/content/index.php/2006/07/23/opinion-best-blogs-send-audience-away/ The Blogging Times

    Opinion: Best blogs send audience away

    Kevin O’Keefe (Real Lawyers) writes about how how your blog is not going to become all things to all people on a niche topic. He assures that if that is your goal, ;you’re setting yourself up for failure. [Read his ful…

  • http://none alan macleese

    Lex: Truer words never spoken in re blogs sending seekers away. I am a 75.7-year-old former newspaperperson who had (in my mind) urgent reasons to get as much information on MySpace as possible; I shared with L.A. blogger important new news about how MySpace’s ownership had been kept secret up to an after it was sold to the Foxfolks. I had, at first, a dial-up Mac that could not be converted to high-speed, so got a high-speed setup and commenced blogging while still not knowning that I could forward more than one e-mail at a time. Time and again I failed to try to connect with portals, tried to send messages on my “scoop” shared with lalaland blogger Trent Lapinski. I wondered, with allthe wonders of googling being re vealed to me, why it was n’t simpler for simpler folks, in a technological sense, to get onto websites, and, of course, the problem wasn’t the web, the problem was I didn’t know the simple things to do to get the info I wanted. I learned by hook-and-crook, and now can gimp around pretty good, but I oh-so desperately wanted the web to work like a telpehone or an old-fashioned typewriter, you get it to do stuff and you don’t have to understand why it does it, it just …. works. When stupes like me can cruise around with ease, from the get-go, then watch our dust. almacleese, hallowellmaine, where life is as it ought to be, and it is a pity other towns and cities do not share our bounty here along the lovely Kennebec River, near the hook.

  • http://www.niblettes.com/blog niblettes

    Do you have any evidence beyond your own highly arguable opinion that links that spawn new browser windows causes any of the experiential problems you’ve described here (ticked off users, usability hurdles, etc)??

  • http://hunterdjohnson.wordpress.com Hunter

    I completely disagree with people un subscribing because the link opens in a new window. I know for me personally if I am reading a blog and I am interested in a link I want to open that link in a new window, continue reading the blog I am on until I finish, and then close the window to move on to the linked blog. I usually right-click open in new tab instead of just clicking the link because so many people don’t set their links up to open in a new window. I know I set my blog up to open links in a new window, not because I am overly concerned with keeping the traffic, but because I knwo how freaking annoying it can be.

  • http://www.knowingart.com/ PJ

    This has been said since the 90′s.
    “The Internet is about surfing.”

  • http://www.litwc.com Patrick Havens

    As has been commented on, I also set my main links to open in new windows, because I know it annoys me when I’m reading a blog and when I click it opens in the same window.
    Now I only set the main article links to open in new windows… and I strongly suggest people use firefox (or another browser that uses tabs.)

  • http://www.blogmemes.net/meme/11781 www.blogmemes.net

    Best blogs send audience away

    Liked what you just read here ? Vote for it on Blogmemes ! Jeff Jarvis writes “The problem with portals is that they aren

  • http://Preview john

    ^^in IE people can just right click and choose open link in new window. no need to make the decision for them.

  • http://www.blahblahblahg.com/ Randy Graham

    As others have said – I set my site to open links in a new window, because when I visit other sites, I want their links to open in a new window. If i get sent to another site by clicking a link, and it doesn’t open in a new window, I tend to not go back to the site that sent me there. A few sites I visit don’t open new windows and I know that, so I middle-click links there (firefox open in new tab button), but if I don’t know a site is not going to open a new window for me, when I follow a link, I rarely click back.
    RagManX

  • http://www.chinalawblog.com China Law Blog

    You got that right. But I would add that the second best way to drive people away is to not read your comments. Just by way of example, Sheppard Mullin did a post a few months ago and I TWICE asked them where they were getting their information and they failed to post my comment either time nor did they ever respond. You can bet I am not going back to their blog.

  • http://www.chinaowl.com Andrew

    Hi,
    I gree that sites should not try to be everything to everyone but I disagree that everything should open in the same window.
    One of the main reasons that I use google is that I can use it as a tool that saves a list of links while I work on a number of things at once. Yahoo, on the other hand, opens links in the same window and it makes it useless to me (yahoo can’t match google on a number of fronts but that’s another story). Usability is the key and if new windows hinder that, then…
    -Andrew

  • http://blog.stadi.eu stadi

    Hi!
    I always use target=”_blank” on my blog, because I like it that way, and I want it to be that way on other sites as well. I browse with a lot of tabs open, and as someone already said I open the links, read the post to the end and then I read the links. I really hate if I accidantely click on a link (and not “super drag and drop” it or middle click it in Maxthon) and it opens in the same window. If it hapens and the post/site wasn’t very interesting, I usualy don’t go back anymore.
    By the way with IE7 all browsers will be tabbed (Maxthon, Opera, Firefox), so “having 8-9 windows open” won’t be a problem anymore.

  • http://thedevilsfeet.net Kara

    I tend to use a halfway house approach here, my sidebar links open in the same window, as I usually expect them to be a route off the site once someone is done browsing. Links in articles open in a new window, as this is the way my friends and I tend to browse – so we tailor our sites for our target audience.

  • http://marketstockwatch.blogspot.com/ Chris

    I always “right click” so I can stay on the original blog unless I am done reading. Typically, the links come in the middle of a good post so I want another window to open. You may be right but I am then in the minority.

  • http://www.mayvillesmiths.com Stacey

    I also have all links on my site open new windows. I prefer it that way and prefer my own ‘surfing’ to work that way. I tend to go off on tangents when I’m surfing and if there is something that I want to go back to, I know it’s still there. I would be curious to see if you have any data on this subject or if you were just voicing an opinion.

  • http://matt.triburbana.org Matt

    I agree that links should open in same window.
    Surely people are able to use a right mouse button or a CTRL button, if they really want to open a new window/tab. Some sites use little java options so that a reader can set links on a site to open in same/new windows.

  • http://www.private-intellectual.de Pi.

    I set my links to open in a new window for the simple reason that the links are embedded in text that continues beyond the link. It is easier for a person to click and read a reference and then cross reference between the two windows than it is to constantly have to back and forward click.
    Although, I can see the otherside too in some circumstances, I don’t believe it works in every instance.

  • http://www.airbagindustries.com Greg

    I’ll pay $100 to the first person who can quote a well-known and well respected, published, web useability expert who says having links open a completely new browser is a good idea (note: said quote must come from after the turn of the century). It was a nifty idea back in the late 90′s but it’s common knowledge among web producers that using target=”_blank” is a bad idea.
    Firefox and Safari (IE whenever they can pull their apps out of gamma) allow users to chose to open links in new tabs — or a new window if the pop-up options don’t block it first — and that’s the way it should be.

  • http://www.themediainterview.com George Plumley

    Clicking to the same window seems appropriate when you’re in an obvious progression from one page to the next (multi-page articles, pages on the same site), but isn’t the whole point of the web, and blogs in particular, to divert off a path for a moment. And if you divert off the diversion, that’s great too – but the easiest way to do all this, I think, is through multiple windows. I have eighteen tabs open on my Firefox at the moment and three of them led me on a path to this posting :-)

  • http://MultipleBrowserWindows.com sjt

    Perhaps you should learn how to manage more than one window at a time! Get a clue: Managing multiple open windows (or now multiple tabs) is a basic Internet-related skill. Catch up to the times!

  • http://www.outsourcingboom.com/ offshore outsourcing services

    At the time of reading this post I opened all links in new window (right clicked). After reading this post I will turn to windows waiting for me in taskbar/toolbar.
    And I think most of the reader do this so hardly you lose the interested reader.

  • http://www.christianmontoya.com Montoya

    You guys are all quite dense. If you had read the above entry, you would have noticed that the following point is being made:
    “The best blogs [which you wish your blog was one of them] send [their] audience away [which means, they DO NOT try to keep users]”
    Your insisting on keeping users on your blog by having links open in a new window is exactly the problem. The best blogs send users to other sites, and those users come back time and time again looking for more new stuff. Get it now?
    (In case you still don’t, visit Technorati.com and check out the top 100 blogs. Go through them all and see how many open links in new windows. I can assure you that the top 5 DON’T. If the best bloggers don’t do it, why do you?)

  • http://www.writerspace.net AndrewE

    Judging by reader’s comments, this article was poorly thought out with no supporting evidence.
    This is the sort of thing that is most likely to make me unsubscribe from a blog.

  • http://www.sexinart.net Justin Fox

    GET OVER IT!!!
    Can’t we leave anything at all to personal preference these days?!
    For a while I was losing sleep because it became frowned upon to use tables, or ooh ahh even worse nested tables.
    Addidas or Nike? Digital or Film? Firefox or IE? Come on people, there’s more to life than arguing about target=”_blank” or not.
    Everyone’s got an opinion, that’s a good thing. Some people use their opinions to start debates (ie: stir shit) and that’s just what this article is designed to do. It is in no way at all trying to resolve anything. It’s one way into a dead end lane.

  • http://www.sexinart.net Justin Fox

    GET OVER IT!!!
    Can’t we leave anything at all to personal preference these days?!
    For a while I was losing sleep because it became frowned upon to use tables, or ooh ahh even worse nested tables.
    Addidas or Nike? Digital or Film? Firefox or IE? Come on people, there’s more to life than arguing about target=”_blank” or not.
    Everyone’s got an opinion, that’s a good thing. Some people use their opinions to start debates (ie: stir shit) and that’s just what this article is designed to do. It is in no way at all trying to resolve anything. It’s one way into a dead end lane.

  • Martin

    I’ve noticed that everyone who says they prefer to open blog links in new windows know how to do it, regardless of target=”_blank” being used or not.
    Guys, its fine that you like it this way. Plenty of poeple do. And some don’t. If you use target=”_blank” they’re stuffed. If someone doesn’t use target=”_blank” then you’re not.
    Its all about choice – so give the user some. An absolutely fundamental part of usability is understanding that not everyone is like you. In fact most people aren’t, so give them the power to choose how to interact with your site. Like Justin says, its all about personal preference.
    That preference should be that of the user though, not the designer!

  • http://www.thejoekorner.com/indexfrm.html Joe Korman

    When I was learning my way around HTML, I used the _blank target for just about everything, including links to my own pages. This caused a number of problems:
    On my own pages, because I had links on my own page that came back to my main page, I found that this would cause visitors to wind up with multiple windows in my own web pages.
    Also, some of my pages are designed to only open in frames for display reasons. This would sometimes make my pages look like an infinite regression of pages.
    For external links it made many windows open each time another link is opened. This could get very annoying to visitors, needing to close windows for each link viewed.
    I solved this problem by using specific targets depending on the type of link. If it’s to one of my own pages, I keep it in the main window of the frame. For some special subjects, I open a separate target name. These are like photos-at-the-joekorner to keep all of my photos in one window.
    All external links go to link-from-the-joekorner. This will keep them in one window, no matter how many links the visitor makes.

  • http://www.niblettes.com/blog/2006/07/26/doxa-in-epistemes-clothing/ niblettes

    Doxa in episteme

  • http://www.theanimeblog.com David Bigler

    I couldn’t agree more – the best blogs DO send the audience away…they aren’t greedy that way :)

  • http://www.australianinfront.com.au Justin Fox

    Sorry for the double post. Some more of my opinions:
    I am a designer and at times I feel raped by “usability”. If Jacob Neilsen had his way a few years ago the internet would never be the exciting and diverse place it is today.
    The problem with usability is that it assusmes users are stupid.
    Here’s news for you. They’re not. I love seeing “usability” sites with non-underlined links on their sites. And hey!!! They’re not blue either!!! (or purple once visited). See? That’s pretty hypocritical isn’t it? I think people can figure out what’s a link, or not easily enough.
    “Usability experts” is a self made profession for many people in this industry. I’ve been designing and building sites since 1996, professionally since 1999 and I’ve come across many “usability experts” who were nothing but diciples of Jacob Neilsen’s book.
    Having said all that, I do agree it depends on the job at hand. I wouldn’t go abouts creating an experimental navigation system for a public access government site but I might for an art gallery web site.
    So target=”_blank” surely has exceptions. A site which uses it can’t be “instantly bad”. If you hate it so much, and can’t be bothered to right click to launch links in a new tab then it’s still your choice as a user not to visit the site.
    That’s life.
    I’m satisfied when I am happy with my work and my client is happy with my work and hey, even better if the client’s friends, partners, family and target audience are happy… but you can’t design and build a site that everyone in the world will be happy with, you’d be a little silly to even try.

  • http://www.topsinnj.com TOPS in NJ

    It absolutely bewilders me why people have become so enamored with search engines. Search engines account for only about 25% of internet traffic. Websites clamour to maximize their websites by engaging in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), either personally or by contracting it out to so-called SEO professionals. The internet is huge and getting bigger everyday. No SEO expert will guarantee the effectivness of their SEO efforts. Basically, websites pay thousands of dollars for no expected return on investment (ROI). Give me a break! There has to be a better way. How about an “Internet with in the Internet”? Topsinamerica.com (http://www.topsinamerica.com) has done just that. They created an exclusive “Internet within the Internet”. Make no mistake about it, I am biased, because I market the Topsinamerica.com service through my business TOPS in NJ (http://www.topsinnj.com). But let’s realistic, most small to medium sized business can’t afford the cost of SEO because it is an ongoing effort. Big search engines change their search algorithms at their whim. It’s a constant “scrabble” to keep up. Also keep in mind that ALL of the websites big and small are competing for the same, coveted, first page search engine listing. What’s the answer to the problem? Check out topsinamerica.com. You won’t be disappointed.

  • http://www.rosedesrochers.com Rose

    I’ve always set my links to open in a new window only because I find it annoying when I click on a link and am taken from that site but you bring up some valuable points.

  • http://musing.typepad.com/competizione/ Musing

    Good advice!
    About sending your audience away, that’s what we live for. We drive traffic to bloggers who are holding contests and are thrilled when people leave us and discover other blogs.
    It’s nice to know we’re doing something right.

  • http://ww.nakliyat.name evden eve nakliyat

    Hi
    Im Mary
    As luck would have it, Mort, Mort’s Mom and myself all use Tomsastrblog for our blogs. This was handy because it meant I could use the exact same code for all of them – the only downside is that they perhaps aren’t as representative of all blogs everywhere as they could be, though the techniques I used would work for any blogging system, and I imagine the results would be much the same. But I suppose you’re all screaming to hear just what these cunning things I did are. You are, right? Yes, I thought you were.
    Thank s

  • http://www.freewebs.com/maximka/subaru/index.html boddi

    Excellent informative site

  • http://www.myrontay.com Myron

    Call me lazy but I prefer to have target=”_blank” as well. And I get annoyed otherwise.