I was designing an interface which was a popup showing a document (pdf) and right below its metadata (user who scanned it, doc name, doc-relative metadata, etc).

Since I was tasked to make an Editor for that metadata, I came up with tabs, one was called Document View, and the other Edit metadata.

My boss didn't like it, because he says that it was not good looking, that it was confusing because tabs were "actions", so I ended with a slideUp() of metadata and then slideDown() of the editor on Edit button click.

Can someone tell me if my boss was indeed right and what is the difference with MS Word Ribbons (for example).


  • Uploading a screenshot or mockup may help to decide whether or not you are using the right control. Feb 26, 2014 at 13:27
  • 1
    Bart Gijssens is right, but it sounds to me like your boss had a problem with the labels of your tabs. The Edit metadata tabs sound like a verb, instead of a noun. Thus, it seems like an actions instead of different view. Rename your tabs to "Document" and "Metadata" and you have something that sounds more useful.
    – André
    Feb 26, 2014 at 14:17
  • @André I really like your suggestion. I just realized how often I make that mistake: make the tab about what is there, not what the user should do there.
    – JHixson
    Feb 26, 2014 at 22:36

1 Answer 1

  1. Was your boss right to say that tabs are "actions". No. Tabs are UI elements that do not carry out any action other than to switch between UI views. From MSDN: "Tab controls represent the tabbed manila folders used to organize information in filing cabinets commonly found in the United States." Example: enter image description here

  2. What is the difference with ribbons? again, according to MSDN: Ribbons are the modern way to help users find, understand, and use commands efficiently and directly.

To decide what to use, have a look at the following MSDN articles, especailly the "is this the right control" sections:

Tab Control

Ribbon Control

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