Do people understand tab grouping in Internet Explorer version 8 (IE8)? This was a new idea introduced to collect together and identify tabs originating from the same source.
Note this isn't grouping based on the web site (domain name)—it's grouping from which other tab you clicked. The group colour is selected randomly, so yesterday's blue might be today's yellow.
My concern with tab grouping is not the concept, but the use of colour. Not because of the accessibility difficulty that some people may have distinguishing between colours, which is partially addressed by Microsoft in a tab naming convention, but because the colours can lead to confusion about SSL certificates. Take this example with four tabs open, the first tab selected and a current Extended Validation (EV) SSL certificate in use:
- Bank No X online banking login (domain A / SSL)
- Bank No X information page (domain B / non-SSL) opened using a link on page 1
- Bank No Y home page (domain C / non-SSL)
- Bank No Y business banking login (domain D / SSL) opened using a link on page 2
What does green mean? How about if we have an invalid SSL certificate and the tab group is green:
Confusing? Yes. It can lead to this type of misunderstanding:
That must be what I am seeing because it's not always the same colours. I had thought it had to do with security.
Helping people to identify and reject invalid SSL certificates is important—IE8 users are being put at a disadvantage by Microsoft. I'd like to see tab grouping turned off by default for now, and some other indicator of tab groups used instead of distracting colour-coding. Perhaps, since new tabs are always opened adjacent to their 'parent', even something as simple as this mock-up might suffice:
Is this easier to understand? What do you think?
Posted on: 28 July 2009 at 08:21 hrs