I am wondering if there are some guidelines for ordering of tabs.

Typically we see General tab as the first which makes sense. What if there is no general tab? How to decide which ones should follow general tab or which ones should be at the end? Any difference in the guidelines based on the platform e.g. web/windows/mac?

I could come up with some common sense approach such as keeping the least used tab at the end or most used in the beginning, etc but I am mainly looking for any established guidelines.

  • This is what user research & information architecture do. Each product is unique.
    – dnbrv
    Commented Mar 28, 2012 at 15:29
  • I'm not sure we can provide much help with this little information. Order is something so simple yet so general it really doesn't have any kind of guidelines beyond the importance of reading order and a logical heirarchy.
    – Ben Brocka
    Commented Mar 28, 2012 at 16:00

1 Answer 1


This is interesting. To order tabs, you need to know what the label of the tab and content within represents for the user. It can be done in a card sorting session, where users put pieces of information into more meaningful chunks of information. It can be open, where no label of the information chunk is given and the user is free to order and group in any way they feel best. If it's a closed card sort, the label of the information chunk is predetermined. Like having labels of "About Us", "Start", "Products", "Our Values", "Investor Relations".

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User will then be asked to place phone number, quarterly report, vision, support, yearly report, organization, vacancies and much more under each label. When this is done, with several users you get statistics to base your decision on. It is rare to ask about which order these tabs should be in, but I see no problem with it. In fact I think you ask the right question here. If you can's decide - let your users guide you.

There are numerous of card sorting tools available, both freeware and proprietary ones. One that I like is xSort for Mac. Also there is a good book on Card Sorting, which one can read if interested.

Good Luck!

  • Very interesting. Yes, this could be a nice approach if we can't decide. But I am a novice here. I am looking for some basic rules/guidelines to use in ordering the tabs in general. What are the things to look and decide in ordering the tabs?
    – rpattabi
    Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 15:59
  • 1
    I would use metrics then. Most visited first, second most visited > second, and so on. But be sure that it makes sense, and reorder if it would suit the organization better. Involve representatives from other departments as you move along. Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 19:48

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