Windows guidelines are saying that you shouldn't disable tabs, since it doesn't explain why content is unavailable. They recommend hiding/disabling all content inside tab and explaining the reason there.

I have a form of a "Task" with several tabs. Form has 3 states: create, view and edit. Some content is not available until Task is created, so currently we just disable those tabs.

I want to change this behaviour to follow guideline recommendations, but what if it will be frustrating—clicking through tabs that are not needed to create a task? Maybe it is better to hide them altogether? But then "create" state will differ from others.

What is your method?

  • Disable/Hide content and explain reason there?
  • Hide tab altogether? (Inappropriate for settings!)
  • Disable tab (and add tooltip or change tab name)? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • You say some content is not available but do you mean some functions are not available? For example the view or edit functions cannot be associated to a task which hasn't been created. Also, are the tabs the 3 functions you mentioned - create, view and edit? A screenshot would be nice.
    – deemyBoy
    Dec 18, 2015 at 5:13
  • All content of a tab is unavailable. No there are 6 tabs in a Task. Task itself can be created, edited and viewed. Dec 18, 2015 at 10:04
  • Can you upload a screenshot, sketch, or mockup of what you currently have? I'm imagining a couple of different things, and I can provide an example of how I handled one such case.
    – Perry
    Dec 18, 2015 at 16:18

1 Answer 1


Option 1.

  • Hiding the content - You go to the tab, you see the explanation instead of the content, you got it. Simple as that. Hiding the content is better than disabling as disabling is usually used for business logic (for example, an option is disables unless some check-box is checked).
  • Hiding the tab - The worst option. Users will get frustrated desperately searching for it.
  • Disable and add tooltip - Second best option but you want to save this option when the tab is really inaccessible, for example due to license expiration or unauthorized user.
  • Disable and change tab name - in addition to the above, this is just weird. Users expect tab name to be static.
  • Judging by question title, this is the right answer. But imagine that if you create a "Task" with several tabs and one of those tabs is "Comments". "Comments" are unavailable during the creation of a task. You still think it is better to leave that tab, hide contents and provide explanation? Dec 22, 2015 at 13:28
  • 1
    See my answer to this question - ux.stackexchange.com/questions/334/…
    – Assimiz
    Dec 22, 2015 at 17:11

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