Double Tab Navigation


The users need to navigate a hierarchical structure


Use a double tabular to show the two topmost levels.


Use when

Sites where large amounts of pages are available and are hierarchically structured. The number of elements in the toplevel and in the second level each are less than 10. Users want to see where they are now. Users want to know how to get back to the main page


Use a nested tabular to show the topmost level and one level lower. The current page is marked in both tabular and they are visually "connected". Additionally, use colors to indicate the selected tab. The topmost tabular is always visible while the other tabular changes depending on the current top-level selection. The first tab in the top-level is reserved for the home page if there is not any other "Home" destination.


The tabular metaphor is well-known in user interface and facilitates easy navigation between groups of information. By showing the current position in the two topmost levels the users know where they are and can also jump to other categories.

More Examples

Dell's web site uses a more text-based double tab.

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3 comments have been added to this pattern

Craig Birchler, 30th May 2008
I know this is a comment seciton, not a forum, but... I am currently in need of a third level of distinction, as opposed to the two levels shown in the examples above. For example, using the scenario above, I might have Quicktime > Download >... then the two (or more) options "Mac" or "PC".

A third level might be relatively intuitive, but I fear it could become frustrating as a click through sequence and difficult for the user to place themselves at their current location. Are there any thoughts for similar navigation schemes which utilize 3 layers?
Anna Nmty, 18th June 2008
Perhaps a combination? Try the double tab, but the second tier does a fly-out menu.If the fly-out comes from hovering over a second tier tab, then you are still at just two clicks.
Danny Hope, 19th June 2008
Neither of the examples above are examples of double tab navigation.

Tabs are a real world metaphor and as such they must look (not just behave like) tabs.

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