Last week’s Casual Fridays study was inspired by my (incorrect) observation that the latest beta version of Firefox always displays tabs. (Actually, while it defaults to that setting, it’s possible to disable it.)
When I pointed this out on Twitter, the reaction was one of astonished disbelief that I might ever not want to be viewing multiple tabs. Am I the only person left who doesn’t always use tabs? And who uses the most tabs? We asked readers how many tabs they currently had open, as well as several other questions about their internet habits and opinions.
As it turns out, I’m in a substantial minority: Nearly all of over 1,300 study respondents had more than one tab open when they answered the survey. Just 9.2 percent said they had one or no tabs open. But our readers don’t use tabs willy-nilly. Only 16.7 percent of respondents said they had more than 10 tabs open. Three-quarters of readers had from 2 to 10 tabs, and most of those had from 2 to 4 tabs open.
We actually asked two different questions about tabs: How many do you have open now, and How many do you typically have open? The responses showed two distinct patterns:
As you can see, the actual tab use formed a very nice bell curve, skewed to the lower numbers of tabs. But reported tab use had peaks at 5, 8, and 10. People tend to pick nice round numbers when estimating their use of tabs.
So what kind of a person uses more tabs? This graph shows some interesting correlations.
The blue bars show number of hours spent online per week. The more hours you spend online, the more tabs you’re likely to have open. The red bars show age: The older you are, the fewer tabs you use.
We also asked a question designed to assess what type of celebrities our readers knew of. We named three Internet celebs: Leo LaPorte, Esther Dyson, and Jonathan Ive, and three mainstream celebs picked at random from People Magazine’s top 25 celebrities: John Mayer, Kate Walsh, and Julianne Hough. Readers were asked to indicate which names they recognized. I recognized all three Internet celebs, but only Julianne Hough from the People list (apparently this makes me a complete dweeb — nearly everyone who responded knew who John Mayer was). How did our readers do, and was there any connection to tab usage? This graph shows the results:
People who recognize more Internet celebrities were more likely to have more tabs open. But there was no significant correlation between recognizing mainstream celebrities and tab usage (I thought the two might be negatively correlated, but as you can see, the relationship is completely flat).
So young people who spend lots of time online and recognize Internet celebrities are most likely to have more tabs open, while older people who spend less time online and don’t recognize Internet celebrities are less likely to have more tabs open.
There are some other interesting tidbits from this study, but it’s getting late on a Friday, so I’m not going to report them now. If I get a chance, I might post a little more of the data over the weekend.