I've read the Android design conventions, but can't see a good solution.

I have a 3 tab mobile application. Tabs 2 and 3 need a selection made on screen 1 before they will work. The user enters at Screen 1, and the tab options are along the top. If they attempt to open screen 2 or 3, I would like to advise them to make a selection first. 'notifications' are the closest answer I can see from the Android design guidelines. Anybody have any other solutions?



  • 3
    Hi @Andelad, this question doesn't seem much different from the one you asked 30 minutes earlier (ux.stackexchange.com/questions/72969/…). Maybe it makes sense to merge them into one question? Feb 2, 2015 at 14:21
  • The other question has been closed as a duplicate of this one.
    – JohnGB
    Feb 2, 2015 at 17:34
  • Thank you both. Yes, it was a duplicate. I thought the second was clearer. I'll know to merge them in the future.
    – Andelad
    Feb 3, 2015 at 18:57
  • Hey @Andelad, what is the goal? Do you want users to be able to swap between tabs or will the user need to be able to do this? If you only use the first two tabs to get information for tab 3 and this is where the user will stay then maybe tabs are not the best option here. You might be better off with a WizardPager. May 1, 2015 at 12:43

1 Answer 1


Tabs indicate that there are different views of related information that can be swapped between at any time. Showing tabs and not allowing them to be used adds cognitive friction.

I wouldn't show the tabs at all until after a selection is made on the first screen. Be sure to keep the first screen as simple as possible and only ask for the minimum amount of user input (in your case initial selection). Additional information can be shown on the first tab along with the other tabs now showing across the top giving added confirmation that the first selection opened up additional possibilities.

If getting rid of the tab control until it makes sense isn't possible then make sure to be explicitly clear to the user when the action they are trying to perform isn't doing what they expect and how to remedy the situation.

A Notification has the advantage of not getting overlooked but just make sure it is direct and to the point...

"Select a product from the current tab before switching." [ OK ]

  • Thank you Dave. Yes, tabs were decided on earlier in the process and that a selection needed made was later. So we may need to go back and revise it. Depending on resources, what do you think of using an android 'notification' which pops up and says please select first? Do you think its a reasonable use of that convention? You are right that it will mean some cognitive friction
    – Andelad
    Feb 3, 2015 at 19:01
  • a notification will certainly not be overlooked. if removing the tab control until switching is allowed is out of scope then I would probably go with the notification warning. make sure the notification is short and clear -- Select a product on the first tab before switching views -- good luck
    – DaveAlger
    Feb 3, 2015 at 19:18
  • Thank you. May also simply have an empty tab screen with a note saying 'make selection on screen 1. Appreciate the feedback.
    – Andelad
    Feb 4, 2015 at 23:35

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