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I have a tabs component that is always shown to the user. During the loading phase a spinner appears to the right of the title of each tab. When loading is complete I don't know if it's better to hide tabs that the user can't use or disabling them and give a feedback (something that means "You don't have elements to see here"). I usually prefer to disable, I don't like making things disappear while the user is watching, unless it's something due to an interaction (click something and another field in a form appears for example)

I appreciate every feedback, thank you

3 Answers 3

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Well, it will completely depend on your use case.

If we're talking about consistency, it's better to show the tab. However, if it's actionable (meaning the user can see the content of the tab, even if the content is empty), then it shouldn't be disabled, not even in look. Elements are enabled or disabled, there's no middle ground.

In any case, as @AlexMarcevoi said, display the number of items and in the case of empty states, in the content tab area explicitly say "There are no items". This is the most common pattern for empty tabs and it's quite known for most users.

As for this part:

I don't like making things disappear while the user is watching,

that's absolutely correct. You should never do this. But I want to mention this: assuming there's a case where this may happen, then simply avoid loading that tab so users won't see a disappearing element.

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If a UI element is inactive, there has to be a way for user to "unlock" it, otherwise user is not in control of the UI.

One way to tackle the issue of an empty state, is to add a counter next to a tab like this: Tab A (3), Tab B (2), Tab C (0). Furthermore, make a (0) grey to enhance the visual cue.

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  • There is a counter on the side of the tab title and the user have the ability to add element to the list shown inside the tabs, so yes the user is in control i think. Thanks
    – Michi
    Jan 2 at 16:08
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I would not recommend disabling or hiding the tab as it creates confusion for the user. If there is no content in the tab to display, you can display a message that no content available. See Tabs design guidelines.

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  • I know, I'm of the same mind. But the design team thinks differently 🙃
    – Michi
    Jan 9 at 15:46

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