The Terrible Tabs Death March


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I sat in on a demo recently where the presenter navigated to a page with about 10 tabs displayed across the screen and then proceeded to march through each tab, one by one, in detail.

It was very interesting to watch the body language of the audience. The response to the initial page was positive – it looked good; a dashboard of information and status. The next tab was received with moderate interest, but at the third tab many of the audience members visibly sagged in their seats…!

By the fourth and fifth tabs nearly everyone had checked out (perhaps even the presenter, who had clearly presented these tabs many, many times before…). There was an audible sigh of relief as the final tab was described.

This was a classic case of the presenter following the old, established, traditional demo pathway – a slow, painful tab-by-tab march towards no sale!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Peter Cohan
Have you ever seen a bad software demonstration? Peter Cohan is the founder and principal of Great Demo!, focused on helping software organizations improve the success rates of their demos. He authored Great Demo! - how to prepare and deliver surprisingly compelling software demonstrations. Peter has experience as an individual contributor, manager and senior management in marketing, sales, and business development. He has also been, and continues to be, a customer.


  1. Sounds too familiar. The “less is more” message apparently still hasn’t taken root in some areas (although the “tab overload” – often resulting from the underlying relational DB – was an issue identified 8-10 years ago).

    Looking forward though, I would be interested in seeing more vendor/solutions demonstrating abilities to leverage web application frameworks for their UI’s (e.g.Silverlight, AIR, or custom, etc.).

    At the UI level, there will be no one size fits all, so you need an approach that allows the UI look and feel to be customized to meet the business needs (depends on the API’s and openness of the underlying platform however).

    Usability has been under-addressed overall with some players IMO, and its often those “little” tweaks to usability, that understand the business context, that can have the biggest bang, winning the client over and increasing field adoption.


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