Tabbed vs long is not the question - you can have short pages that are
highly navigable without tab. So here's what I've seen:
- Page length depends on the content. Many users prefer things close to
above the fold, but nearly as many like to scroll, which is why major news
sites and other informational sites (such as the NYT) offer multiple page
and single page views in addition to print. In sites where there are
multiple page and print options only, the proportion of printing views on
single-vs-multi-page stories shows that "print" is frequently used to view
one-page versions of pieces.
- Short pages are excellent when you have a user actively interacting -
games, forms, etc.
- Long can be useful if your audience is band-width challenged as well.
Short pages and tabs can result in long waits for page loads peppered
throughout a story, which is frustrating and can lose users
- Some audiences actively prefer one-page presentation of content. For
example, working at a high-tech manufacturer, we learned that our 80%+
engineering audience vastly preferred a simple page with a scroll to
multiple pages, however they were arranged.
- Don't forget to think about width! Those users happily scrolling with
mice can be frustrated by a page that insists on taking up all or exceeding
their monitor's width.
The important thing is to have good navigational scent above the fold if
you're going to have significant content beneath it, so users know there is
useful content below.
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