Simple Way to Increase Interaction With Tabbed Navigation

Nearly 2 years ago, Get Elastic posted on the topic of tabbed boxes in ecommerce website design, namely, they are so easily overlooked by users.

The post received many fabulous comments, like Christian from the Baymard Institute:

In all usability tests I’ve ever done the users always tend to overlook tabs.
If you are forced to make tabs then at least obey to web conventions and make the links blue and underlined to minimize the “banner blindness” that occur when decorating your tabs.

Justin Palmer from C28.com testifies:

Since redesigning our product page on C28.com, I’ve noticed quite a few comments from customers who thought we removed features that are now behind tabs. We’re working on a/b testing a long, scrolling product page vs. the tabbed design. My gut tells me the tabbed version will lose.

Hey, I do like tabs, they clean up web design, allow for more content above the fold and allow for easy scanning of available content on a page. My only concern is they can fade into the background all-to-easily.

Perhaps Dell is on to something — it emphasizes tabs with a verbal call to action “Find even more great options using the tabs below” and arrows to draw the eye to the tabs.

It’s worth testing (usability testing or A/B testing) drawing attention to your tabbed boxes if you’re married to your current design, but want to increase user interaction with tabbed navigation.

Looking for help with design and usability? Contact the Elastic Path consulting team at consulting@elasticpath.com to learn how our ecommerce strategy and conversion optimization services can improve your business results.

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3 Responses to “Simple Way to Increase Interaction With Tabbed Navigation”

  1. emil says:

    Dell’s approach is a quick fix to an obvious usability problem. If they need to draw the user’s attention with additional text and arrows, they should just redesign the tabbed navigation. They can either part with the tabs altogether, or add a dark background behind them (see http://jqueryui.com/demos/tabs/)

  2. Lace says:

    I love tabs and find myself staying longer on websites that have them. They make navigation super easy, compared to plain side bar links. Definitely worth an experiment for merchants who don’t have them yet.

    I don’t think a verbal call to action is necessary though like what appears on Dell’s website.

  3. Marko says:

    As an alternate method of displaying more information, I’ve been an increasing fan of the super-long item-level page. Rather than hiding content under tabs, why not just feature it lower on the page. EBay has been doing it since day one.

    Burton has an interesting approach although probably equally “hidden” as a typical tab – note the “anchor links” in the top right corner. You can use them to jump down to that piece of content – or just scroll, and you’ll notice they highlight as you reach that section.

    http://www.burton.com/mens-jackets-universe-down-jacket/253692,default,pd.html?start=&collection=heritage

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