Building Firefox Tabs

Posted by Mike Brittain on October 25, 2006

When I downloaded pre-release builds of Firefox 2.0 I was surprised at the additional close buttons added to each tab. I didn’t know whether I liked them or not, but I found when I switched between Firefox 1.5 and 2.0 from time to time, I was more likely to look for the close buttons on each tab than having just one button on the far right. It was new, but it seemed right.

A story on ZDNet today confirmed that my own intuition matches HCI tests run by Google and NASA:

“Google did usability studies with eye-tracking tools and determined that
people actually look to the tab first, and it would take longer to determine
if they had the right tab and were ready to close it,” Beltzner said. “NASA
Ames recently did cognitive modeling for us on tabs. Not only was the
‘close’ button on a tab quicker, but people would be more accurate. They
also gave us good data on how wide tabs had to be before people clicked on
the wrong one.”

It’s exciting to know that these two organizations are both supporting the development efforts of Mozilla…

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