Thursday, June 21, 2007

Humanized Puzzler #2: Firefox Tabs

When good products get something wrong ...

"Recently I wrote an article called Firefox 2.0: Tabs Gone Wrong. In it, I argue that Firefox introduced a new feature that represented a big step backwards in terms of tab usability:

In Firefox 2.0 a "feature" was introduced that dealt with the edge-case where there were many tabs in a new way. It takes a giant step backward by actively concealing information.

Previously, as the number of tabs grew, each one's size would shrink. Eventually, there would be so many tabs that you couldn't even read their titles. But, while this clearly wasn't ideal and led to a certain amount of hunting for tabs, you at least always knew roughly where it was: "an inch or so from the right side of the window". Now, however, the tabs remain mostly readable but can scroll off-screen.

To access off-screen tabs you need to click on the little arrows on the left or right of the tab bar. For allowing a only a subset of the tabs to be readable at a time, a lot has been sacrificed:

• Scanning your eyes across the tab-bar no longer guarantees you'll see all of the tabs — this has tripped me up a number of times: I've ended up with 3 or 4 identical because I didn't realize that I already had the tab open;
• You can no longer associate a tab-bar location with a certain tab because they shift around every time you scroll — the interface doesn't feel stable anymore;
• Scrolling through tabs is quite slow — I find that it is often the case that opening a new tab is faster then finding the old one."    (Continued via Humanized)    [Usability Resources]

Firefox Tabs - Usability, User Interface Design

Firefox Tabs

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