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I'm trying to decide between using a custom css select as a title versus using tabs on a page I'm working on. I drew up two wireframes below:

1. Using Tabs

2. Using Select

As you can see, the Select version is a bit cleaner and it takes up less vertical space, but I'm afraid users will have a hard time finding the other options, if they're not displayed on the page.

Another reason to go for the second option is that the last two tabs will be used much less frequently than the first one.

What do you guys think?

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It seems like the forum has guided you towards tabs, however one thing to note is, if you're worried about vertical space, you could get rid of the heading since the tab already serves as a heading. You just need to style it so it's prominent like a heading. –  Rich Feb 4 '13 at 8:27
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3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

If you only have a few options and enough vertical space free, you should use the tabs. The tabs are a lot faster to switch between, and show all the options to users at the same time. They are generally much easier to use, but take up more space.

If you have many options (say 10+), or you have limited vertical space, you should use the select. If you have that many options though, I would first see if there is a sane way of improving the hierarchy / structure of your program to limit them.

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+1 for giving example of when drop down would be the better solution –  Charles Wesley Jan 30 '13 at 18:44
    
Great points, you turned me around. Thanks! –  Norbert Jan 31 '13 at 11:37
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If you are confident that tabs would not wrap, the first option has the benefit of increasing the visibility of the available tabs rather than hiding them within the drop down.

You also have the ability to highlight the selected tab using color/depth which would allow a user to know what tab they are on without necessarily requiring that they read the drop down.

Lastly, the tabs present a larger target for the user to click. It would be harder for a user to select the wrong tab than it would be for them to select the wrong list item in a dropdown.

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I would definitely go with the tabs according to your mock.

Major subpages shouldn't be hidden from the user.

If I was searching for "office stats", my first instinct would not be to look inside of a select.

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