Tab: Enhancing Navigation and Usability in UX Design

Tabs are a common user interface (UI) element that organize content into separate sections within the same page. By dividing content into distinct categories, tabs improve navigation, usability, and overall user experience. Effective use of tabs can simplify complex information and make interfaces more intuitive.

What are Tabs in UX Design?

Tabs are a set of clickable buttons, often displayed horizontally or vertically, that allow users to switch between different sections or views within the same page or window. Each tab usually corresponds to a specific category or subset of information, and clicking on a tab reveals its associated content while hiding the others.

Importance of Tabs in UX Design

  1. Improved Navigation: Tabs provide a straightforward way for users to navigate between different sections of content without leaving the current page, reducing the need for excessive scrolling or multiple page loads.
  2. Content Organization: By grouping related content under different tabs, designers can present information in a more structured and digestible manner, making it easier for users to find what they need.
  3. Enhanced Usability: Tabs create a more intuitive and user-friendly interface by visually segmenting content, helping users understand the structure and relationship between different pieces of information.
  4. Space Efficiency: Tabs maximize the use of screen space by allowing multiple sections of content to be displayed within the same area, reducing clutter and improving readability.
  5. Faster Access: Users can quickly access different sections of content with a single click, enhancing the overall efficiency of the interaction.

Key Elements of Effective Tabs

  1. Clear Labels: Each tab should have a clear and descriptive label that accurately represents the content it contains. This helps users quickly understand what each tab offers.
  2. Active State Indication: Visually distinguish the active tab from inactive ones using color changes, underlines, or other design elements to indicate which tab is currently selected.
  3. Consistent Design: Maintain a consistent design for all tabs, including size, color, font, and spacing, to create a cohesive and professional appearance.
  4. Responsive Layout: Ensure that tabs are responsive and adapt well to different screen sizes and orientations, providing a seamless experience across devices.
  5. Accessible Design: Make tabs accessible to all users by implementing keyboard navigation, ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) attributes, and ensuring proper contrast ratios.

Best Practices for Using Tabs in UX Design

  1. Limit the Number of Tabs: Avoid overcrowding the interface with too many tabs. Aim for a manageable number (typically 5-7) to prevent overwhelming users.
  2. Prioritize Important Content: Place the most important or frequently accessed content in the first few tabs to ensure users can find it easily.
  3. Use Short Labels: Keep tab labels concise while still being descriptive. Short labels are easier to read and prevent layout issues, especially on smaller screens.
  4. Indicate Changes: If the content within a tab changes dynamically (e.g., due to user input or updates), provide visual cues or notifications to inform users.
  5. Provide Context: Ensure that the context and purpose of each tab are clear to users. Use icons or brief descriptions if necessary to clarify the content.

Tools for Creating and Managing Tabs

  1. Design Software: Tools like Sketch, Adobe XD, and Figma allow designers to create and prototype tabs with interactive elements and transitions.
  2. Front-End Frameworks: Frameworks like Bootstrap and Material-UI provide pre-designed tab components that can be easily integrated and customized.
  3. JavaScript Libraries: Libraries like React and Vue.js offer components and plugins to create dynamic and responsive tabs.
  4. Prototyping Tools: InVision and Marvel enable designers to build interactive prototypes that include tab navigation and user testing.
  5. Accessibility Tools: Use tools like Axe, WAVE, and Lighthouse to ensure that tabs meet accessibility standards and are usable by all users.

Real-World Examples

  1. Web Applications: Google Drive uses tabs to separate different sections such as “My Drive,” “Shared with Me,” and “Recent,” allowing users to quickly navigate through different content categories.
  2. E-commerce Sites: Amazon uses tabs in product pages to organize information such as “Product Description,” “Customer Reviews,” and “Q&A,” making it easier for users to find relevant details.
  3. Content Management Systems: WordPress uses tabs in its admin interface to manage different settings and options, providing a structured way to navigate through various configuration panels.
  4. Social Media Platforms: Facebook uses tabs in user profiles to separate “Timeline,” “About,” “Friends,” and other sections, helping users explore different aspects of a profile.
  5. Software Interfaces: Adobe Photoshop uses tabs to manage multiple open documents, allowing users to switch between projects without leaving the main workspace.


Tabs are an essential component in UX design, offering a practical and efficient way to organize and navigate content. By following best practices and leveraging the right tools, designers can create intuitive and user-friendly tabbed interfaces that enhance navigation, improve usability, and provide a seamless user experience. Implementing effective tabs ensures that content is presented in a structured and accessible manner, making it easier for users to interact with and enjoy the product.

Ondrej Zoricak
Ondrej Zoricak