A little bit of context to make my self more clear. I am working on software tool that is meant for designing UIs. My next step is to create a properties area, where you edit the width/height, x/y, font colour, the action of the element, and other options.

I believe that the best way to do that is by grouping the different options to related tabs, for example one tab for Colour where you can set the different colours, one for size, one for other etc. (see picture below)

enter image description here

My manager on the other hand believes that this will make it slow and we should have all options together displayed in one tab. I managed to convince him that this is not a good approach. But his new suggestion was just create to tabs and split them to half. (see picture below)

enter image description here

I believe that the best approach is multiple tabs, grouping the different kind of options.

My question is am I right on this? if yes what other arguments could I use? if not, what would be a better approach?

  • I like my options all together, but within the options page, grouped by function. This works best when there aren't a great number of options; as soon as the number of options rises above a relatively small number (and I've never tried to figure out what my cutoff is), breaking them up onto different tabs by function, or making the properties panel pop up context-sensitive, becomes the more sensible (IMO) way of handling them. Commented Mar 12, 2018 at 14:13
  • Note that the guy that sits next to me and does much the same sort of work vehemently disagrees with me on this. De gustibus non disputandem est. Commented Mar 12, 2018 at 14:14
  • Helo @JeffZeitlin thank you for the comment. And I agree with you if the options would fit there I wouldn't split them up, but they already don't fit and we keep adding more. so even the 2 tab idea will soon be obsolete again.
    – C. Michael
    Commented Mar 12, 2018 at 14:17

2 Answers 2


My suggestions would be to keep two tabs horizontally. As already mentioned by @Pavel, vertical tabs are not good because it's difficult to read them.

  • Create two tabs: Layout and Style. The layout contains the properties required for structure. The style will contain all the properties which change the appearance and style of given element.
  • Group the properties together in a visually separated container (card for instance).
  • Provide number inputs where a user needs to input the integers. Alternatively, provide sliders which can be used to update the values just by sliding left-right.
  • Use different types of input elements to break the monotony and making the elements easily differentiable.

The reasons for this approach:

  • Layout and Style segregate the properties at the very basic level. From a designer point of view, it will be easier for him to figure out what tab he should click or open to make the changes. For instance, if I have to change the layout then I will know which tab I need to choose. Fewer options are less confusing.
  • Grouping is necessary to present the options clearly and separately.
  • Using number inputs or sliders reduce user efforts for making any change or adjustments.
  • Thanks for your answer. I like the layout and style idea, this is actually very straight forward. Could you also give me some points to why should I do it this way and not the other way?
    – C. Michael
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 8:03
  • @C.Michael I have updated my answer.
    – K K
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 8:58

Tabs Location

The tabs on the side doesn't seem to look right, it might be better to put them back on top of the form.


Any of the aforementioned groupings would be sufficient if it's consistent with what the properties are.

If the properties (and the actions to configure) are only size-related, putting them in the "Size" tab would work best.

Otherwise, if they are more general in nature, it might be better to create a separate tab for them, perhaps, reconsidering its name "Properties", since the controls that reside in all tabs are properties as well.

  • Thanks for your answer. Could you give me some points to why do that, so I can have some arguments when I pitch it?
    – C. Michael
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 8:00
  • Thank you, Michael! I've put everything into my answer. Perhaps, there are some researches on these topics that I'm not aware of. Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 8:30

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