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3 Creative Concepts of Mobile Tab Bar Navigation

Posted 2 years ago by Nick Babich

When it comes to selecting a pattern for the primary mobile navigation, product designers usually choose between two options — side drawer (also known as a hamburger menu) and tab bar. Both navigation patterns have their pros and cons.

Tab bar vs. Side drawer (hamburger menu). Image: Google

Since this article is about tab bar, let’s start with its advantages over sider drawer:

But tab bar also has a few downsides:

In this article, you’ll find three interesting concepts of tab bar navigation. I also provide links to the source code so you can use some of those concepts in your projects.

1. Nested navigation options

As was mentioned above, one of the significant downsides of tab bar is a limited number of options. On mobile phones, it’s possible to place a maximum seven top-level navigation options in a tab bar. While the limited number of navigation options won’t be a problem for a vast majority of mobile apps, some apps might need to provide more options.

Below you can find a concept that tries to solve a problem of a limited number of options. When users tap on a folder icon, a few more options become visible in the same physical space. The size of a folder icon (the one that acts as a parent for other three option) implies that this object does more than other options for users.

Pros: Provide more options in the same physical space.

Cons:

Image: Hoang Nguyen

2. Separating the active tab button from the tab bar

Since tab bar usually has top-level navigation options, each option in a bar acts as an independent destination. The concept demonstrated below tries to separate the targets visually.

Ketan (the author of this animation) provides the source code of this animated bar React Native Tabbar Interaction. He also describes a process of creation of this bar in details in his article FAB Tabbar — Concept to Reality

Image: Ketan

3. Animated effects on tap

Creating good first impression is one of the most important goals mobile developers have today. Considering the fact that an average app loses 80% of their users soon after the installation, creating a good impression is a chance to reduce this percentage.

One of the ways to achieve this goal is to create a memorable experience. When we interact with a digital product we don’t remember the entire process of interaction, what we usually remember are specific details. This might be something as simple as a funny mascot, vibrant colors or fine animation. That’s why many designers say over and over again that

“The details are not the details. They make the design.” -Charles Eames

Smooth animated effects which are used in the following concept are able to create a truly memorable first-time experience. Ramotion (the author of this concept) provides source code for this animation.

Image: Ramotion

This article was originally published on Nick’s Medium page.

Further reading:

I’m a software developer, tech enthusiast and UI/UX lover. http://babich.biz

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