I've always seen icons in navigation bars display icons in order of importance from left to right (at least in the US), with the Home icon being aligned to the left.

However, I was testing out an app and the home screen is in the center of the navigation bar. My first impression was that this would be confusing, given the familiarity of left-to-right ordering, but I'm wondering if there's a reason for this?

One that I could imagine is that it might be more a "neutral" position when considering cultures that read right to left?

Home screen for SoloLearn


Aside from giving the app a more symmetrical look, it also makes tabs easier to access, if one can swipe between the tabs. A centered home tab makes every tab at most 2 swipes away, rather than 4 swipes with a left-aligned home tab.

That's not to say that it doesn't have disadvantages. Off the top of my head:

  • Taking longer to find the home screen icon. As we're used to reading left-to-right, it takes longer for our eyes to travel to the middle element.
  • Requiring more thought for getting to the home screen with swipes. (It's not just swipe all the way to the left, no matter where you are.)
  • Potential reliance on an odd number of items. To have a truly centered and symmetrical tab bar with a single central item, the number of tabs has to be odd. If a tab is later added or taken away, it breaks the pattern.
  • Inconsistency with the big apps. While I haven't researched all tab-based apps, YouTube, Google Play, and Facebook all have Home on the very left.
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  • Could you elaborate on the disadvantages, for completeness' sake? – Orphevs Jun 24 '18 at 21:36
  • @Orphevs added to my answer – Tin Man Jun 24 '18 at 23:26

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