|Menu Design Guide|
See also: list of menu tabs applets
Tab menu design considerations
List of menu design guides:
web buttons and animated buttons,
- Purpose. Menu tabs are the most prominent design
item on the world's most prominent and popular web sites - no other
design item compares! Look at Google or Amazon (or similar sites) - what are the first
design items which leap to your eye? These sites use menu tabs for one very simple reason:
they give the user the strongest possible sense of orientation and location among the
vastness of the information provided on these sites. Remember this if you use menu tabs.
Their purpose is as a dramatically clear orientation guide where dramatically clear
orientation is most needed!
- HTML versus dynamic tabs.
Amazon, Google and other major sites are handicapped by server-side scripting only policies, which
means that when you see them, their menu tabs are pure HTML. You click - and wait... for
the page to build. If you are prepared to allow client-side scripting on your site,
then you can go several steps better than these mega-sites. Dynamic tabs can have rollover
responses and states, for example. Combined java/DHTML menu tabs
can pre-load pages, so that the switch is instant - no waiting for a page to build.
- Hybrid tab / drop-down menus.
Menu tabs by themselves are not very scalable. Google uses them to navigate about half a dozen
items. Amazon has more menu items than this - but rarely more than a dozen. This is, again,
one of the side-effects of their designers not being allowed to use client-side scripting.
Highly scalable tab navigation can be created by combining tab menus with drop-down menus.
- Tabs combined with other control types.
Web application designers may also like to use tabs to increase space
efficiency on application toolbars and control panels. Tab menu applets
can be placed above several DIV's and switch between them, revealing
different controls. Or tabs can be combined in multi-display applets
to switch between multiple menus and other display types. This is primarily
an area for specialist web application developers.
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