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Managing Defaults and Overrides in Settings

October 5, 2017 at 1:56am

Managing Defaults and Overrides in Settings

October 5, 2017 at 1:56am (Edited 2 years ago)

Hiya everyone! I’m working on email notifications and am struggling to find the right interaction pattern.

Here is a little bit of context: Instructors get notified if a student submits a regrade request for a question on the assignment. If there are lots of requests, they get pretty annoyed that they can’t turn this off. Because of this, I want them to be able to turn notifications off for a specific course (sometimes they teach in multiple courses at a time). I also want to let them set an account default option so they can set it once and forget it. Here’s what I have right now: Image

The issue that I am having with this type of pattern (with the defaults above and then specific options below) is that it often results in users setting the default setting expecting that it will apply to the existing course(s). They don’t realize that they then have to also change the existing course options and expect that changing the default will do it for them.

Here’s another potential solution that is a bit more complex to explain but hides the default option as a checkbox after the user makes a change to a course option. Image The downside is that the default is only exposed once a change has been made so its a bit more difficult to find if you are looking to just change the default.

What do you all think? What solution do you feel is better? Do you have any suggestions for how to manage default settings over existing settings? Thanks so much!


October 5, 2017 at 1:28pm
I think your original version is more usable and a better experience, it just needs a little tweaking. If it were me, I'd change the titles to "Regrade Request Notification Settings" and "Regrade Request Notification Courses." When a user selects "Only Questions you Graded," ask the user, "Would you like this apply this to all of the Regrade Request Notification Courses?" If yes, change the dropdown automatically for them. This shows them that there's more to it and that they can still customize the Course settings. Good luck!
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Hi Jim, Thanks so much for your feedback! I really like the suggestion of prompting them with that question to cue that there are more options (these options will likely be hidden beneath the page because the settings is getting a bit long but thats a slightly different design problem). What do you think of these changes?
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My concern with the one above is that the checkbox isn’t noticeable enough even though it would appear when the user changes the setting. I also tried this solution where I wrap the checkbox in an alert message to bring even more attention to it.
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That's definitely heading in the right direction. I would keep the titles the same at all times to prevent cognitive overload - so just using the title "Regrade Notifications per Course" at all times will make it less confusing for the user. The other challenge with it now is that the follow up question/checkbox is buried - there's a lot of text on the screen so it gets lost. You may want to make it more obvious so that it creates a learning experience. Ask the question using a modal/prompt (asked as a Yes/No) makes it much more noticeable and by asking as a question makes it more human centered. For example, "Do you wish to apply this notification setting to all of your courses?" [Yes] [No]. Hope that helps.
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Ah good catch, I forgot to update previous titles! Thats a great suggestion because it would be an easy way focus the users attention to what is going on. I’ll have to consider the prompt idea a bit further as it's not a part of the existing design language. You say asking the question makes it more “human centered” - do you think you could elaborate a bit more on that? I realize I’m asking a bit more about copy design but I think it's a pretty important aspect of designing usable settings. (Also thanks again for your feedback, I really appreciate it!)
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Nice, we have use a Design System as well, we've been growing and evolving it for the past year. This iteration works as well since the background and information icon draws attention. The challenge with this is that the follow up question remains disconnected from the actual "Only Questions You've Graded" setting. If you could make it appear directly under that option (before "No Regrade Request Notifications"), indented, and aligned (so it's grouped visually) then I would say it's perfect! Making a product Human Centered is about making the experience tailored to the user. For copy, you want to use more natural language and interact more like a friendly human than a robot. Ask the user what they want to do rather then telling them this is what's going to happen. It makes them feel like they have choices which makes the app more approachable and friendly. lmk if you have more questions.
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October 6, 2017 at 4:00am
Going back to your original question, I prefer the 2nd option where you reveal the checkbox to 'make default' after the notifications are changed. This seems to fit the user intent better if I understand your flow. You suggested they will come to these settings after getting too many emails, motivated to make the change and then with this layout you would provide the option to apply that same motivation to new courses. That seems like the ideal context for that decision. - Contrast this to your first option where the user has to parse the whole page and determine which of the two notification sections apply to the decision they want to make. That seems like extra complexity to me.
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Where you said "so its a bit more difficult to find if you are looking to just change the default." I don't think the user will come looking for defaults. I think they will come wanting to solve their immediate problem, the specific course notifications. Once you solve their problem, you can teach them about defaults as a bonus. In other words don't design for the mythical power user :)
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October 6, 2017 at 11:39am
Hey James, normally I would agree with you but the user's motives are more complex than that. This appears to be a B2B app and the notifications helps the user keep her job. From a business standpoint, these aren't notifications about frivolous things like a friend's profile and status updates. The user may have shared responsibilities in a number of courses and simply wants to stop the notifications for the ones that she doesn't need to take action upon. She will want to keep receiving the ones she does need to act upon.
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October 6, 2017 at 5:55pm

Jim, no need to agree. Disagrement is healthy in design :)

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Thanks James for your input! You always seem to bring a perspective that I haven't considered :D and Jim, I do agree these notifications are pretty important so having full control over the settings is pretty key. Thinking about this problem a bit more, I think a table is better suited for this action. Heres what I am thinking:

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while there is less room to communicatae each option (don't really have much space to put descriptions/carification text) I think this is a bit easier to immediately change your current course but also change the default. Also, it will clearly demonstrate that changing the defualt doesn't change the current course(s).

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This table version definitely makes it crystal clear. I see you removed the apply to all option - was this on purpose? Since this is an education based app do you need to consider Accessiblity?

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Yeah, the apply to all option was removed because an instructor is a part of at most a few courses each term so we would have only saved them a couple clicks.

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In terms of accessibility, this is a bit more complicated because its a table & radio buttons at the same time but its definitely not the most difficult thing we have tackled before. For color contrast, everthing meet or exceeds contrast requirements.
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Cool, just keep in that this table solution requires a lot more interaction for those using screen readers. Looks great, good job!

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