I'm trying to figure out what is the best UX that I could possibly implement for a mobile phone app. Either selecting of data via tab header or a dropdown.

Solution 1 - Tab Header

It is easy for the user to see available sections/data using this solution.

The one problem that I can see is, there are some instances that the user didn't see the available tabs from the right since it is hidden and user needs to scroll horizontally to see other available tabs, one of my target users is old people ages 40-60 with weak knowledge in technology.

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Solution 2 - Dropdown

One advantage of implementing dropdown that I foresee, is for the users to see all the available actions/information/data that the user can interact with.

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I just want to get your insights into these 2 solutions. Feel free to correct or recommend other approaches.

2 Answers 2


My first question on this would be: How many tabs do you expect to have within your application?

Using tabbed navigation is not a huge usability issue provided you can display all tabs on the screen. You are utilizing the same mechanic essentially at the bottom of your app with your Dashboard/Timeline/Notifications/Menu/Options.

It is also quite common in a lot of mobile apps such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, BBC, and even the Google Play store. Especially in the case of BBC News and Google Play which are apps that should be accessible by all users.

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If you have more than 4-5 options you can still use tabs, provided you indicate clearly that there is more content available to browse through (e.g see BBC & Google Play example).

A dropdown, of course, would work equally as well, just be aware that tabs are not a component that tends to impact usability greatly (again depending on the content of your app and number of tabs you have).

My recommendation: Use both approaches in prototypes for some quick user testing. Grab an older relative or two and ask them to use your app, see which interaction they prefer best. You might be surprised that they have no issues with tabbed navigation as it is something they encounter quite often.

Now, if you have loads of tabs, then perhaps a dropdown would work best so as not to fatigue the user with horizontal scrolling. But there is one key power feature your app needs when you have a lot of content (and common in the examples above): a search function.

  • Agreed on all said. One additional factor can be how often options will be used. If you have more than 7 options and they are all same important, dropdown is better then maybe. If you decide for dropdown wouldnt be bad if it is full width with clear Label what is it for. Its also perfect thing to test as mentioned.
    – xul
    Jun 3, 2020 at 10:28

Considering the old people ages 40-60 with weak knowledge in technology. I will go for dropdown as sliding tabs are relatively new as compared to dropdown.

We can try full-screen navigation. Here we can possibly show all available option by making use of all available screen size efffectively.

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