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I have been modifying my Facebook and Gmail account settings when I come across several types of saving strategies. Take for example, at the time of this writing, Facebook:

  1. Instant save - saves upon modification. Mostly used in Privacy settings. Modifying them immediately applies the selected options.

  2. Item save - saves a bunch of settings for a certain item. An example is the one on General Settings. Editing a Name asks you a bunch of inputs and there's it's save button. Still under general settings, there is Password, Email etc. each having their own save buttons.

  3. Sectional save - one button that saves a group of settings. This was found on the older Timeline, where editing relationships made you input a bunch of people, their data, and one save button for all.

  4. Global save - This one can be found in Gmail settings. Exiting the settings page without save prompts you to either discard or cancel. What I do usually is go back to General settings and save there, regardless of which section had an unsaved modification.

I don't know why websites implement them differently. Shouldn't they be consistent? Are there any guidelines as to how these save schemes should be done?

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Related question: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/12289/… –  CJ Franken Apr 4 '13 at 7:57
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1 Answer

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Save actions should be consistent across application, but that doesn't mean you can't have different types of save within the same application, if and only if, you specify what you're doing. If you have different types of actions you should specify these actions accordingly by using informative button labels such as Save Section, Save Open Item and Save All Items.

But for the instant save action, which happen automatically without user action (on saving) you need to treat it different. There is probably a delay of some kind, and on that delay your user need to know whether or not the current items are saved or not. You could highlight the background color in yellow when it's not saved, and go back to normal (saved) coloring when the item or input field is saved. That way users know what is going on. Adding some kind of automatic appearing and disappearing label saying "Saving" and/or "Saved", would be even better.

But all of this boils down to informing the user what actions to take, and which actions happen automatically.

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