Ditch the “advanced” tab

17Apr08

When designing software, it’s common practice to relegate some of the more obscure settings into an “advanced” tab. Personally, I don’t understand the attraction. Adding another tab to your settings window creates yet another thing for the user to worry about, and doesn’t really provide any benefit. Sure, you might be able to shorten the list of regular options, but the others are still lurking in the background. And if the user wants to view or change the advanced options, they’ll need a lot more clicks to see what’s there.

What’s the answer here? I think it’s a two step process. First, as others have recommended before, get rid of the obscure options that nobody ever uses. Second, put all the remaining options on a single screen. It’s OK if people have to scroll to view them all, but at least they won’t have to click through a bunch of confusing tabs to get there. By implementing this approach, you’ll make it easier for customers to find the options they need, while reducing the trepidation that often accompanies a trip to the “advanced” tab.



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