Should web apps maintain state when moving between tabs

23 Jan 2008 - 3:38pm
6 years ago
13 replies
882 reads
Adam Connor
2007

I feel like the answer to this should be pretty cut-and-dry, but I can't
help but second guess myself.

I'm working on a web app with a tabbed interface (what else is new).
Under each tab is a workflow that carries the user through a few screens
in order to reach a result.

Consider the following, I have two tabs Tab A and Tab B. Under Tab A is
Process A and under Tab B is Process B. If a user begins Process A, and
at any point clicks on Tab B (for any reason) when the user returns to
Tab A, should they be placed at the same point in Process A as they were
when they left?

I go back and forth, so I'm hoping getting more opinions will help me
make a final decision. Let me know if I made the question too confusing.

-adam

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Comments

23 Jan 2008 - 5:33pm
Troy Gardner
2008

Keep state.
Tabs, accordians should only begin again if. Explicitly cleared. Think
of the metaphor of a file cabinet that tabs are based on. IF you move
something around, does it change?

If you need to return to the beginning of a workflow there should be
something like a home button and a confirmation that they are about to
return to the begnning, and lose any work done. Alternately as in the
browser, create a new tab, starting fresh in the workflow that the
user cdn.

23 Jan 2008 - 5:34pm
mojofat
2004

It may be somewhat context specific (i.e., what this is actually used
for), but in the general case you outlined I would retain statefulness.

Regards,

Al

Sent from my iPhone

On Jan 23, 2008, at 12:38 PM, "Connor, Adam" <AConnor at MassMutual.com>
wrote:

> I feel like the answer to this should be pretty cut-and-dry, but I
> can't
> help but second guess myself.
>
> I'm working on a web app with a tabbed interface (what else is new).
> Under each tab is a workflow that carries the user through a few
> screens
> in order to reach a result.
>
> Consider the following, I have two tabs Tab A and Tab B. Under Tab
> A is
> Process A and under Tab B is Process B. If a user begins Process A,
> and
> at any point clicks on Tab B (for any reason) when the user returns to
> Tab A, should they be placed at the same point in Process A as they
> were
> when they left?
>
> I go back and forth, so I'm hoping getting more opinions will help me
> make a final decision. Let me know if I made the question too
> confusing.
>
> -adam
>
>
> ---------------------------------------------------------
> This e-mail transmission may contain information that is
> proprietary, privileged and/or confidential and is intended
> exclusively for the person(s) to whom it is addressed. Any use,
> copying, retention or disclosure by any person other than the
> intended recipient or the intended recipient's designees is strictly
> prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient or their designee,
> please notify the sender immediately by return e-mail and delete all
> copies.
>
>
>
>
> ---------------------------------------------------------
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
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23 Jan 2008 - 5:36pm
Shep McKee
2005

It depends. ;)
This is an issue I constantly run into as web apps become more
complex. The same interaction patterns are being used for 2 different
purposes: (1) pure navigation or (2) as a card stack / tabbed dialog /
(whatever you want to call it).

In the end - it really depends on context and user expectations. Do
some ad hoc user testing. If you do maintain state - consider an
option to reset the process to it's initial state. Some issues I
consider...
- If either Process A or Process B are complex - then maintain state.
- If Process A and Process B are dependent on each other - then (most
probably) yes, maintain states.
- If Process A and Process B are not dependent on each other - then it
could go either way

Regards, Shep McKee

On Jan 23, 2008, at 3:38 PM, Connor, Adam wrote:

> I feel like the answer to this should be pretty cut-and-dry, but I
> can't
> help but second guess myself.
>
> I'm working on a web app with a tabbed interface (what else is new).
> Under each tab is a workflow that carries the user through a few
> screens
> in order to reach a result.
>
> Consider the following, I have two tabs Tab A and Tab B. Under Tab
> A is
> Process A and under Tab B is Process B. If a user begins Process A,
> and
> at any point clicks on Tab B (for any reason) when the user returns to
> Tab A, should they be placed at the same point in Process A as they
> were
> when they left?
>
> I go back and forth, so I'm hoping getting more opinions will help me
> make a final decision. Let me know if I made the question too
> confusing.
>
> -adam
>
>
> ---------------------------------------------------------
> This e-mail transmission may contain information that is
> proprietary, privileged and/or confidential and is intended
> exclusively for the person(s) to whom it is addressed. Any use,
> copying, retention or disclosure by any person other than the
> intended recipient or the intended recipient's designees is strictly
> prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient or their designee,
> please notify the sender immediately by return e-mail and delete all
> copies.
>
>
>
>
> ---------------------------------------------------------
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

23 Jan 2008 - 5:40pm
SemanticWill
2007

A more abstract question is this -

Why are essentially two independant wizard like form operations happening
inside of tabs to begin with? Is that the right metaphor to separate out
different categories, types of interactions, workflows....

What does the tab metaphor mean in the context of the application - there
are plenty of other navigation metaphors out there - does it make sense
under your current application context?

- Will

On Jan 23, 2008 5:36 PM, Shep McKee <shep.mckee at gmail.com> wrote:

> It depends. ;)
> This is an issue I constantly run into as web apps become more
> complex. The same interaction patterns are being used for 2 different
> purposes: (1) pure navigation or (2) as a card stack / tabbed dialog /
> (whatever you want to call it).
>
> In the end - it really depends on context and user expectations. Do
> some ad hoc user testing. If you do maintain state - consider an
> option to reset the process to it's initial state. Some issues I
> consider...
> - If either Process A or Process B are complex - then maintain state.
> - If Process A and Process B are dependent on each other - then (most
> probably) yes, maintain states.
> - If Process A and Process B are not dependent on each other - then it
> could go either way
>
> Regards, Shep McKee
>
>
>
>
>
> On Jan 23, 2008, at 3:38 PM, Connor, Adam wrote:
>
> > I feel like the answer to this should be pretty cut-and-dry, but I
> > can't
> > help but second guess myself.
> >
> > I'm working on a web app with a tabbed interface (what else is new).
> > Under each tab is a workflow that carries the user through a few
> > screens
> > in order to reach a result.
> >
> > Consider the following, I have two tabs Tab A and Tab B. Under Tab
> > A is
> > Process A and under Tab B is Process B. If a user begins Process A,
> > and
> > at any point clicks on Tab B (for any reason) when the user returns to
> > Tab A, should they be placed at the same point in Process A as they
> > were
> > when they left?
> >
> > I go back and forth, so I'm hoping getting more opinions will help me
> > make a final decision. Let me know if I made the question too
> > confusing.
> >
> > -adam
> >
> >
> > ---------------------------------------------------------
> > This e-mail transmission may contain information that is
> > proprietary, privileged and/or confidential and is intended
> > exclusively for the person(s) to whom it is addressed. Any use,
> > copying, retention or disclosure by any person other than the
> > intended recipient or the intended recipient's designees is strictly
> > prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient or their designee,
> > please notify the sender immediately by return e-mail and delete all
> > copies.
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > ---------------------------------------------------------
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> > February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> > Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
> >
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> > List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> > List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
~ will

"Where you innovate, how you innovate,
and what you innovate are design problems"
-------------------------------------------------------
will evans
user experience architect
wkevans4 at gmail.com
-------------------------------------------------------

23 Jan 2008 - 5:53pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Jan 23, 2008, at 3:38 PM, Connor, Adam wrote:

> Consider the following, I have two tabs Tab A and Tab B. Under Tab
> A is
> Process A and under Tab B is Process B. If a user begins Process A,
> and
> at any point clicks on Tab B (for any reason) when the user returns to
> Tab A, should they be placed at the same point in Process A as they
> were
> when they left?

I'm thinking if you have to ask this question, then Tabs may be the
wrong way to handle the interaction.

There are red flags all over this question.

Jared

Jared M. Spool
User Interface Engineering
510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
e: jspool at uie.com p: +1 978 327 5561
http://uie.com Blog: http://uie.com/brainsparks

23 Jan 2008 - 7:23pm
Adam Connor
2007

Hmm, you guys have given me some things to think about. Perhaps "tabs"
is an inappropriate metaphor to use here due to what it implies. Maybe
simple navigation "buttons/links" would be better.

To add a bit more detail to the problem I am working on, and because I'm
a geek and fanboy I'll give the following example which, while not
directly related, illustrates (I think) the design problem I am working
with:

Assume I have a collection of comics and comic related merchandise (I
do) and my app keeps track of the value of these items.

* The app itself lets me see a value for my total collection.
* It then breaks it down into a few groupings, for example: comics,
action figures, artwork, and I can see total values for each of
these groupings
* Within each of these groups I can further drill down (so, since I
have an affinity for Batman and Tim Sale is one of my favorite
artists) under "Comics" I could drill down to see the value of:
Comics > Batman > Issues Drawn by Tim Sale

So, getting back to my question, if after drilling down within "Comics"
I click on "Artwork" so I can see something there and then go back to
"Comics" should I still see my drilled down results.

adam connor
little green toaster
413.244.4457
adam at littlegreentoaster.com
www.littlegreentoaster.com

23 Jan 2008 - 7:35pm
Darren Ellis
2007

If the user has to progress through a flow to reach the result, then
letting them jump a step or two ahead seems confusing ... but I
don't know the full context. Is it critical the user completes the
interaction on each tab? There's always the simple "continue"
button, or "skip this step". Depends on the goal the user is trying
to achieve, though.

My reaction is similar to Jared's, though. If you're asking the
question, then a tabular navigation might not be the right way to go.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://gamma.ixda.org/discuss?post=25013

23 Jan 2008 - 9:36pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Jan 23, 2008, at 7:23 PM, Adam Connor wrote:

> So, getting back to my question, if after drilling down within
> "Comics"
> I click on "Artwork" so I can see something there and then go back to
> "Comics" should I still see my drilled down results.

Half an hour creating a working paper prototype, then trying it out
on 4 to 6 buddies, should yield the answer you're seeking, young
grasshopper.

:)

Jared

Jared M. Spool
User Interface Engineering
510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
e: jspool at uie.com p: +1 978 327 5561
http://uie.com Blog: http://uie.com/brainsparks

24 Jan 2008 - 2:52pm
pnuschke
2007

I am designing a tab structure right now that saves the data as you move
between tabs. The purpose is to build a complicated query of a database by
filling out various forms, so there is no "process" involved on each page.
One thing I did was I marked each tab where a field was changed for a little
feedback.

Paul Nuschke

On Jan 23, 2008 3:38 PM, Connor, Adam <AConnor at massmutual.com> wrote:

> I feel like the answer to this should be pretty cut-and-dry, but I can't
> help but second guess myself.
>
> I'm working on a web app with a tabbed interface (what else is new).
> Under each tab is a workflow that carries the user through a few screens
> in order to reach a result.
>
> Consider the following, I have two tabs Tab A and Tab B. Under Tab A is
> Process A and under Tab B is Process B. If a user begins Process A, and
> at any point clicks on Tab B (for any reason) when the user returns to
> Tab A, should they be placed at the same point in Process A as they were
> when they left?
>
> I go back and forth, so I'm hoping getting more opinions will help me
> make a final decision. Let me know if I made the question too confusing.
>
> -adam
>
>
> ---------------------------------------------------------
> This e-mail transmission may contain information that is proprietary,
> privileged and/or confidential and is intended exclusively for the person(s)
> to whom it is addressed. Any use, copying, retention or disclosure by any
> person other than the intended recipient or the intended recipient's
> designees is strictly prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient or
> their designee, please notify the sender immediately by return e-mail and
> delete all copies.
>
>
>
>
> ---------------------------------------------------------
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

25 Jan 2008 - 12:38pm
Vlad Fratila
2007

Hello to all!

Adam said:
> So, getting back to my question, if after drilling down within "Comics"
> I click on "Artwork" so I can see something there and then go back to
> "Comics" should I still see my drilled down results.

I find this thing very interesting, though it is not explained that clearly.

So you seek some comics and after a search flow you find them.
You would then want to know what Artworks you have that are drawn by the
same artist.
How do you let your user do this search while retaining the previous
results?
- let's say he wants to add the total price in the end.

Is this the problem, or I'm drifting? ... although i have to agree, tabs
just don't seem right.
Probably a bit of searh refinement would be better
(add/remove a category, for example, to include searching in Artworks,
rather than an Artworks tabs).
Anyway, I think the state should be saved, because tabs are like different
sections (drawers, as someone stated).
The nature of the metaphor is in their relationship, so if they're tabs,
they should be related somehow.

Paul said:
> One thing I did was I marked each tab where a field was changed for a
little
> feedback
Question: how do you let the user know what the "mark" means?
Thanks :)

25 Jan 2008 - 3:02pm
Adam Connor
2007

Vlad,
I think you misunderstood the interaction I was trying to describe -
and that's my fault. The comic book/artwork scenario was meant as an
example and a really bad on now that I look at it.

After requesting a bit more time from the business client and
following Jared's advice on getting out there and testing it myself,
about 70% of people I tested it on expected state to be retained,
which is how I'll be proceeding.

So thanks everyone for your input. It's great to have an active
community like this, especially for someone like me who sometimes
second guesses himself a bit too much.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=25013

25 Jan 2008 - 4:27pm
pnuschke
2007

It is still in the wireframe stage so I'm working it out, but I don't think
it needs any instruction because the asterisk (maybe combined with a minor
font change, or an icon instead of an asterisk) appears after a change is
made so it is part of the feedback loop.

Paul

On Jan 25, 2008 12:38 PM, Vlad Fratila <sparkle.vlad at gmail.com> wrote:

>
> Paul said:
> > One thing I did was I marked each tab where a field was changed for a
> little
> > feedback
> Question: how do you let the user know what the "mark" means?
> Thanks :)
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

25 Jan 2008 - 5:25pm
Pawson, Mark
2007

Well here is a wrench to throw into the works. I was working on a core
UI architecture for an Oil and Gas application that had three tabs:
Home, Search and Map. Our big debate was should the search results,
which could be a huge spreadsheet view, be reflected on the map or
should the map be separate. The advantage of linking them is the
Geologist could find all wells operated by company X that produced Y
and immediately have the map display this when switching tabs. If all
these wells are in the North Sea basin you do not want to see the
default world view map under the map tab. But an engineer may be
doing reserve analysis using the search tab and reviewing drilling
locations in the map. Two distinctly different workflows where
linking the tabs would be very bad.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=25013

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