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Should a given tab contain all information specific and unique to that tab? Or is it okay for other content outside of the tab to change when I select a tab? Is there a named principle/rule/law related to this?

Edit: For those wanting more context: Imagine I have 4 tabs that show information on 4 different cars. Is it wrong if the picture of the car displays outside of each respective tab and changes when I select each tab? Arguably, the picture of the car should be within the tab since it is related to the selected tab.

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Well I imagine the answer is 'it depends'. Do you have a particular situation in mind where this would be done? If you can explain your actual situation then you might get some more specific answers because every situation is different. – JonW May 30 '13 at 12:59
Sounds like you are more into the aesthetics of the site then communicating information at that point. If so, let your brain by the limiting factor of your creativity. If not, reconsider your plans: if the information outside the tab is essential, "it depends" (on target group and used screen, ..) – Dirk May 30 '13 at 14:53

If you want to clearly communicate the way your information is structured, make your interface easy to use, and stick to common and recognizable patterns... you should not put important information belonging to the tab somewhere else. It doesn't strictly need to be part of the tab layout, but you should try not to go against the visual hierarchy.


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

But if the image is more decorative than informative, you can probably get away with it.

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