Since the browser tab was introduced in the mid 1990s, tabbed browsing has influenced the way users access information online.
Historically, it’s been difficult for brands to understand tabbed browsing behavior and use it to improve their digital properties.
But now, it’s even more critical than ever to understand and leverage tabbed browsing behavior for the betterment of the web(and their bottom lines)–because the next tab a user chooses could be your competitor’s.
Fortunately, with FullStory's new ability to show you tabbed browsing in its natural state, digital experience practitioners can gain a deeper understanding of how users interact with different tabs on their websites, identify opportunities to optimize the user experience, and evaluate the impact of design changes with full context.
Tabbed browsing is the new(ish) norm
Tabbed browsing’s popularity stems from its ability to facilitate “sense-making tasks” that users typically work on across multiple web pages in parallel. Tabs gradually replaced the back button as the primary mode of web navigation, with back button usage decreasing from around 40% in the mid-90s to 7% in the early 2010s.
According to recent studies, the average number of tabs open per browser is around nine, which increases the complexity of what digital experience pros have to track.
There’s a clear pressure to both close tabs due to limited screen space, but also to keep tabs open as reminders for easy revisitation. Another recent study at Carnegie Mellon found that 55% of people surveyed don’t close tabs because they contain information they might need or want. Thirty percent of people have a “tab hoarding problem,” with a quarter saying their endless tabs cause actual problems by crashing or slowing their computers.
With tabbed browsing, users could have several of your competitors’ sites already opened and parked in tabs next to your site.
This intensifies the need for frictionless digital perfection, as any difficulty using your site can result in the customer closing your tab and turning to the competition’s tabs.
Understanding tabbed browsing behavior is complex–but crucial
To effectively leverage this behavior, companies need to understand how the tension and pressures of tabbed browsing manifest on their website, ecommerce store, or web app.
These behaviors can have a big impact on the user experience and, ultimately, on your bottom line–but understanding the motives behind this behavior can be daunting. The methods of monitoring how website visitors use tabs are often cumbersome and time-consuming, and require effort to maintain.
So what’s a digital experience pro to do? Build the capability yourself? Maybe. Look to Product Analytics or read 43 pages worth of instructions to configure Google Analytics? Not ideal.
Until today, most product, digital, and web analytics tools are unable to show the natural tab-to-tab ballet performed by their users.
Introducing tabbed browsing visibility with FullStory Session Replay
FullStory offers the only Session Replay with detailed visibility and interactivity surrounding browsing behaviors across one or multiple tabs. You can now accurately visualize the creation, closure, and navigation between tabs.
When you watch a user session through FullStory, you can:
Better understand how your users navigate your site. You’re always oriented to the user's actions, visualized by a blue dot, following the user's focus across tabs as they browse, research, and compare.
Interact with active or inactive tabs for context on why users browse the way they do. You can also zoom into key tab based moments with feedback in the form of New Tab, Changed Tab, and Closed Tab events within the stream.
Get clear, structured feedback when users create, switch or close tabs. This allows you to identify key behaviors quickly.
It’s only through accurate, structured visibility into these behaviors via FullStory Session Replay that companies can shape their experience in the context of tabbed browsing to grow revenue, save time or money, and innovate.
Tabbed browsing isn’t going anywhere—and neither is the need to understand it. (After all, the next tab a user opens is likely to be your competitor’s.) Available on all plans, this visibility into tabbed browsing with FullStory Session Replay empowers companies to accurately visualize and analyze the creation, closure, and navigation between tabs from the user’s perspective.
Harnessing this knowledge helps your company make more informed decisions about how to shape the digital experience with tabbed browsing in mind.