Application structure


Choose a navigation structure based on the most important features in your application and the type of content that the application provides. You want to give users quick access to the most frequent tasks and avoid overwhelming them with content or tasks that are less important. Determine which of the following approaches to navigation works the best for your application.

Approach Use Example
Tab Allows you to structure content so that users can move easily between distinct sections of content of relatively equal importance. A music application might include tabs for artists, albums, songs, and playlists.

Allows you to structure content in a hierarchy. Taking this approach means that selected parts of the content appear at each level.

Include a Back button in an action bar at the bottom of the screen so that users can navigate the hierarchy.

In a list of messages, users could tap a message to see its contents.
Tab and drill-down

Allows you to combine the two approaches.

Use tabs only at the first level of an application, and then let users drill down into the content.

A music application can have tabs for different genres. Users can tap a playlist to see a list of songs.

Make sure that a custom approach provides a better experience than the approaches listed above.

You should test the model thoroughly and refine it so that it is easy for users to learn.

In a map, all available information (such as points of interest and directions) appears directly on the map.


Screen structure

A title bar is an area along the top of the screen that can contain a title, a segmented control, or actions.


Type Use Example
Action menu Contains specific actions that are less frequently used than actions that appear directly in the action bar. This screen shows an action overflow menu.
Context menu Provides users with a quick way to access the most common actions for an item. Users don't have to open an item to act on it. For example, if users press and hold on a picture, actions such as Share, Edit, Move to folder, and Delete could appear in the context menu. This screen shows a contextual menu.
Application menu Holds important actions that are independent of context and common across the application (for example, "Settings", "Log Out", and "About"). This screen shows a sample application menu.

For more information, see Menus.

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