Should Your Online Store Use Tabbed Boxes?

Tabbed boxes are one of the best ways to fit more content on a page without increasing page length or cluttering the page and they have become more and more popular on ecommerce sites in the past few years – especially on product pages.

But one concern I always have when reviewing websites that use tabbed boxes is – do they really get noticed by customers? Or are they too subtle?

I recently worked with an online retailer that had very poor attachment rates for cross-sells and upsells. The culprit? Product recommendations were hidden behind a tab that nobody clicked.

Here are some examples of tabbed boxes on e-stores:

Home page / navigation

Category page

Product information

Subtle text link tabs can also be overlooked easily:

Sometimes “tabs” don’t even look like tabs (Eddie Bauer uses orange boxes):

These examples are shown in isolation – so it’s easy to notice the tabs. But when you place these elements on a web page that competes with other design elements, the tabs can “hide.”

Did you notice…?

Did you notice the “video” tab as your eye scanned this page?

Checkout / sign in

How many returning customers suffering from “banner blindness” start the sign up process all over again because the returning customer option is “hiding”?

If your site uses tabbed boxes – make sure you know that the benefits of the box outweighs the risks that content and calls to action may be missed. Make sure you’re testing them against expanded versions of your content, tracking clicks on tabs or conducting user tests where you observe customer interactions.


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