Multiple Tab Syndrome – when you have multiple tabs open and you have no idea where a particular piece of information is located.
This morning I was looking for a dress that I could wear to a friend’s wedding. As I browsed, I had my favorite dresses shortlisted across several tabs. Once I had worked my through the results page and was ready to make a decision I had to tab through each option. In situations when I have lots of things to choose from, I like to be able to visually map out all of my options. Having multiple tabs open is a low-fidelity solution to this need.
Usually the <title> of the page, that is the text I’m able to read on the tab, looks something like this: www.websiteurl.com/category/header/subheader/item. In this specific case each tab looked like this: www.websiteurl.com/shop/dresses/dresstitle. If I have a few tabs open I might be able to see the full path. However, if I have more than four tabs open I’m usually only seeing www.websiteurl.com/.
So as I looked for a dress I was seeing multiple “www.websiteurl” tabs. When I was narrowing down my options I had to individually tab through each window to find each dress. This became time consuming if I wanted to compare a price or fabric of one dress against other dresses. I couldn’t quickly hone in on the information I needed.
From a dev perspective this is just bad UX. We want users to be able quickly navigate our site instead of getting overwhelmed with information and leaving. Multiple tab syndrome hinders both accessibility and customer retention.
What if this particular website had flipped the title so the product name came first? So instead of seeing www.websiteurl.com/shop/dresses/dresstitle on my tab I saw something like Dress Title: Retailer Name. This way, as I was deciding between the “Photo Al Fresco”, “Flair Game”, and the “Affinity for Art”, I could’ve easily compared options.