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Using Web widgets wisely, Part 2
By Jodi Bollaert - 2004-03-19 Page:  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Pop-up windows

In a 26 July 2002 SIGIA-L post (see Resources), Jeff Lash points out that new windows can be opened with simple HTML using target=_blank; however, this method does not offer developers control over the size of the window or its placement. If you want to control the size/location of the new window, Jeff indicated that you have to use a Javascript link. This type of link will not work, however, in a text-only browser.

Regarding accessibility, Web application developer Ben Protas says in a posting to SIGIA-L, dated 30 July 2002:

"My experience is that most screen readers do start reading the correct window when it opens; the problem is, the user then has no way of knowing how to get back to where he/she was before. The back button (in this case, most likely activated by a hot key or voice command) no longer works; the user has to stop and think about what happened and how to restore the state of the system to continue browsing."

The World Wide Web Consortium has established guidelines for making Web sites accessible. These guidelines have been adopted by the U.S. Federal Government for all government web sites. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines state:

"10.1 Until user agents allow users to turn off spawned windows, do not cause pop-ups or other windows to appear and do not change the current window without informing the user."

Usability tips

  • If your target audience includes users with screenreaders or text-only browsers, follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
  • Run your Web sites through accessibility testing software tools like IBM's Home Page Reader or Bobby from the Center for Applied Special Technology's (see Resources).
  • Consider alternatives to pop-up windows such as displaying the pop-up content in the main window. Is that pop-up really necessary anyway? Also, a new alternative to pop-up windows is tabbed browsing now available in Opera and Mozilla browsers.


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First published by IBM developerWorks


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