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I am creating a website with lots of form fields and was don't know where things should sit regarding the tab index of the page.

As you would expect, the log in fields at the top of the page have a tab index of 1-3 (username, password, login) followed by the navigation bar (let's say 4-10).

HOWEVER - when the user is on the sign up page where they have information to input, it seems that it might make sense to have the first form field the first place to go when they select tab on the keyboard (so therefor would have the tab index of 1) rather than having to tab 10 different times in order to get to the content (in this case the form).

Does it make more sense for the user to be able to go straight to the page content rather than through the login fields and the navigation bar? Bear in mind that having different behavior based on where you are is not usable and very odd.

All answers welcome

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2 Answers 2

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Regarding this situation you have two potential type of users :

The ones that uses tab for the whole navigation : for them it would be clearly inconsistent to switch indexes from a page to another. Plus the fact you can't know what they really want to do. What if they finally don't want to fill the form? If they just want to go through the menu?

The other type of users are the ones using tab occasionaly (going through a form for example). In this case they will just click on the first input, fill it and then press tab. At this moment you shouldn't have any problem with indexes.

So I think you should favor consistency, don't make too much assumptions and don't change indexes.

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I agree that having this inconsistent will be a problem. If you want the site to be navigable by tabbing, you need to have the same order on each page.

As a user, I wouldn't mind having to click on the first field of a form to start it quickly, as long as the tabbing works correctly after that within the form. Many sites don't even get that much right.

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