The Making and Thinking Of Mobile Tab Bar Elements & Animation

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No mobile UI is complete without the tabs. They are a mainstay among the key UI design elements. Tabs by allowing us to navigate among the most important or most commonly used sections of an app offer better and greater control over the app UI. Obviously, by doing so they always help to make the user experience better and richer. But not all mobile apps use tabs the same way or to put it more precisely, not all apps can utilize the tabs to their fullest potential, and sometimes you need to hire mobile app developers India to design and develop the app precisely.

This is precisely why we will take note of the key considerations for mobile tab bar and bottom navigation design. But before that let us have a brief look at the key benefits of tab bar as per the app UI principles and user experience perspectives.

  • Tabs are Great Representations: Technically speaking in the language of UI experts, tabs are great metaphors or symbolic representations of the important functions or sections that users can navigate just with simple taps.
  • Tabs Make Navigation Self-Evident: Tabs at the bottom or put into a drawer menu offers a very easy to use and intuitive interface control that clearly depicts the user location within an app and the other app locations where user can navigate to. All these options along with the present location of the user remain visually self-evident.
  • Helps in Showcasing Content in An Organised Manner: Tabs segregating the app content across relevant and meaningful sections helps to organize the content using very minimum space. Users can easily get an overview of the app content and their locations through the tabs.
  • Make the UI Look Visually Consistent: The UI design with properly organized tabs gives the design a consistent and uniform look and feel besides allowing maximum ease of access for users.

Mobile navigation bars and tabs: Which are the differences?

We are here to provide design tips and reveal key design considerations for navigation tabs. Most people actually confuse it to be the mobile menu. But actually, tabs are a lot different from the mobile menu.

They represent some serious cognitive differences. Tabs somehow have correlation and dependence on each other. In contrast, mobile menu options are independent and don’t have any relations. While menu options can be subjected to search, tabs do not correspond with search and are mostly used for navigating from one section to the other.

Let us now have a detailed look at the key considerations for tab design from the perspective of app development practices. We will briefly mention the basic tab design considerations and then move on to advanced ones.

  • Separating Tabs From One Another: In order to give a more organized view of the bottom tabs, make sure each tab looks different and stands alone from each others.
  • Tabs Are Not For Viewing Parallel Content: In the app UI, tabs don’t work like the tabs in the browser by presenting parallel contents. Tabs are only used to designate separate sections with functional elements.
  • Mark The Active Tab: One of the basic objectives of tabs is to help users see where in the app they are located. By marking the currently used tab, you should help users locate their position in the app.
  • Try To Put Tabs In A Single Row: When it comes to tab design, less is always more. Only use a few tabs not exceeding 4 or 5. Put all the tabs in one single row while maintaining a nice recognizable distance in between. This will make navigation easier and clear.
  • Make Tab Size Finger-Tap Friendly: As users often struggle on the mobile screen with smaller tap targets that only add to their frustration, make sure the tabs are large enough for easy finger taps.
  • Keep The Unselected Tabs Visible: All the unselected tabs should remain fully visible as the open option for the users to navigate and select.
  • Ensure Consistent Look And Feel: Even when a particular function in relation to the user context is not needed, the tab allocated for it should not vanish. All the tabs should remain visible throughout the app screens.
  • Let Tabs Communicate With Badges: A tab for friend requests on the Facebook app showing a certain number easily mentions the number of friend requests or accepted friend requests. Such numbers or small comments appearing as badges on the tabs easily communicate to the audience.

Now let us go deeper into the tab design with some advanced considerations.

  • Use Understandable Labels

Only icons cannot be accessible like the tabs presenting icons with text labels. A clear and easily understandable label can help users understand the option to navigate accordingly. The language used for the tab labels should be easy to understand and straightforward. The text label should also be short and brief.

  • Tab Icons Should Be Familiar And Conventional

Using tab icons along with the text is always appreciated unless you are a very well known app like Facebook. The icons should be used to boast semantic meaning while being very familiar and conventional for user perceptions.

  • Design With Thumb Rule In Mind

As most people hold mobile devices single-handedly while scrolling and tapping with their thumbs on the screen, the tab placement should be thumb-friendly. You need to put the most important tabs and clickable items within the reach of the user’s right-hand thumb to help easy one-handed interaction. This is why bottom navigation should be given a priority for the most important tabs.


The mobile tab design principles that we mentioned so far encompasses almost all the key elements that make UI design more user optimized. As mobile users tend to be an increasingly restless lot as per on-screen behavior, placement and design of navigation tabs play a crucial role to keep users engaged. In the context of mobile UI, design tabs will continue to garner increasing importance and value.


Author Bio: Atman Rathod is the Co-founder at CMARIX TechnoLabs Pvt. Ltd., a leading web and mobile app development company with 13+ years of experience. He loves to write about technology, startups, entrepreneurship, and business. His creative abilities, academic track record, and leadership skills made him one of the key industry influencers as well.

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