Bad Design, Tabs, Usability, Web

Firefox 3: Why Tabs Are Upside Down?

Installing the new Firefox 3 was an easy task. The browser seems to work, on a Mac, better than the previous version. Although that, Firefox still has some usability issues. I don’t want to make a complete review but I would like to highlight the first issue I noticed: using the default skin, the tabs are upside down and not linked to the page they refer.

Tabs should be attached to pages. This is not a new idea, as you can see on the picture tabs has been used in this way for ages. When I have doubts about a new design I tend to look for ideas in the real world…


Files with tabs

Picture by Takashi


The Firefox 3 Approach

I think that Mozilla was just trying to copy the Apple Safari look without thinking if the Apple solution was perfect. In my opinion this tab design is not going to be a problem at all for old users. On the other side it could be troublesome for inexperienced ones: They just don’t notice that those are tabs.


Tabs are hanging from the Bookmarks Toolbar:

 Firefox 3 Tabs A


Changing tabs:

Firefox 3 Tabs Example


Tabs should be linked to the page, not to the menu. A simple mental model…

Firefox 3 Tabs Example B



9 thoughts on “Firefox 3: Why Tabs Are Upside Down?

  1. Uli says:

    I guess this is true on MacOSX only. I’ve just downloaded FireFox3 for Windows.
    Tabs are attached to pages.

    Regards, Uli.

  2. Jake says:

    They may be emulating the behavior of Safari. It’s been a while since I’ve used a Mac, but I seem to recall that the tabs were upside-down in Safari too.

  3. Alain says:

    I agree totally with you, that’s the main issue for me with Firefox 3, they tried to have the same look as Safari, copying this ugly behaviour. They should have added a new theme and keep the Firefox 2 theme as well.

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