Get school business information is a signposting service where most of the links on the site direct users to GOV.UK content. For this reasons the DfE accessibility team initially recommended that the links open to other services in new windows.

What WCAG 2.1 says about tabs

WCAG 2.1 Technique G200 and opening tabs in a new window:

"In general, it is better not to open new windows and tabs since they can be disorienting for people, especially people who have difficulty perceiving visual content."

In user research, we saw users struggle to understand what had happened when they clicked on a link that opened in a new window.

Alpha assessment and accessibility audit

The DfE business engagement and accessibility team audited the prototype in alpha and produced an Accessibility Assurance Report.

In the audit, we were asked to review the links opening in a new window.

In our alpha assessment Andy Jones (head of design and our design assessor) suggested we change the tabs to open in the same window.

We will test this approach in user research.

Example card in alpha prototype which opens in a new tab:

Card showing Trust Capacity Fund details and opens in a new tab link

Example card in sprint zero prototype which opens in an existing tab:

Card showing Trust Capacity Fund details

Update 1st June 2023

In our last round of user research, we tested this functionality with users. People in this round of research told us that they wanted links to open in a new window (rather than in the same window as we currently have in the prototype).

One user described how they always right-click and select to open tabs in a new window (we also observed them doing this). We're aware that these users were confident digital users and though the functionality wasn't what they preferred, they are still able to understand and navigate the site so we are not changing this at this stage.

We will continue to monitor this in future rounds of research.

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