I browse in tabs. I do not browse in multiple windows. When I click a link, most of the time, I CMD+Click to get it to open in a new tab. That leaves the tab I'm working in, like my friends page, open so that I can continue reading it, while saving the links for later checking. There is, however, a time when I do not want to open a new tab- when I'm done with the current one. The only time I click on a link is when I want the link to open in the same tab that it is currently in.
Imagine my annoyance when it pops open in a new window. Unless we're talking about some subsidiary window that's going to be providing added content, like a "Help" window or something, that is probably NOT what I wanted. It leads to me closing the newly opened window, CMD+Clicking the link into a new tab, and then closing the tab I don't want any more. I've gone from a single click to: click;cmd+w;cmd+click;cmd+w
That is not effecient. This wouldn't be an issue if there was a predictable or identifiable process for opening links. Like, for example, if EVERY link opened in a new window, or EVERY link opened in the same, or EVERY link had some indicator (like adding: (pops)) to tell me what it was going to do. You see, if there were some consistency, I could adapt my browsing habits to suit. But when I click a link, I do not know whether it's going to open in a new window or the same- it's a surprise every time.
Considering the majority browsing habit, it makes the most sense to have every link open in the same window unless otherwise marked. When I click a navbar icon, I expect it to open in the same window- and am never let down. When I click a link in the middle of an article, I would expect the same behavior- and rarely get it. Even the most low-end user has mastered the "Back" button. And if they haven't, then popping up new windows is just as likely to confound them.
In other words, what I'm petitioning for is this: don't use that friggin 'target=" attribute on your links unless you've got a damn good reason to. Let me manage my own windows the way I want them to.
Now, the next comment I'm going to see is one that points out that most browsers have features or plugins that allow one to force them into "Single Window Mode", which would resolve this issue. Unfortunately, it creates a new issue- what about the situations where there is a legitimate reason to open a new window? I used to use such a feature, and then discovered that situations where I wanted the links to open in a new window (like say when I want to compose a GMail in a seperate window?). So that isn't a good solution either.
And while we're at it, GMail, why is it when I click a link to open it in a new tab, you open a new window anyway? That's frikkin' annoying!