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My deployment app has 2 modes: Local and Remote. The mode used depends on where the app is being launched. Once the app has been launched the user can't change the mode. However I still want to indicate the mode because the mode affects how the app acts and I want to make that visible.

Currently I am using a pair of disabled radio buttons, with whichever mode is active selected. This works visually but I get the feeling that it's not ideal. I don't want to just use a text label such as Deployment Mode: Remote because that won't make it clear what the other possible mode is.

Here is what it looks like:

disabled radio buttons

EDIT: This is a Windows Forms app, not a web app

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if the user cannot change it, why is the mode important? what knowledge does the user gain from knowing that there is a second mode? that should clarify how much the element should be stressed (or not stressed). –  dnozay Apr 30 '13 at 1:07

5 Answers 5

I don't think the radio buttons are a bad idea per se, but it's an explanation that itself raises new questions: if there are other modes, why can't I switch to them? It would be best to support this (or a simple label) with an explanation of the current mode and what it takes to be able to switch to the other mode.

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

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You could give the information required whilst also adding value by indicating the last time the modes were used. For example:

enter image description here

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1  
This gave me an idea... I didn't realize it was possible to do "disabled labels" –  JoelFan Apr 29 '13 at 20:11

@Roger Attrill's answer gave me the idea to try disabled labels, which I handn't thought of before.

disabled label

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I would support disabled labels, with a hoverover popover explaining why it is not working. –  Justin Meiners Apr 29 '13 at 23:33

I would not use radio buttons unless the user can interact with it.

You can use a simple label or hyperlink (explaining what the modes are) instead.

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

You can have a overlay or a modal window pop-up when you click on the mode to explain what it is.

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What should the hyperlink do? –  JoelFan Apr 29 '13 at 18:39
    
Anyway, hyperlinks would not work... it is a Windows Forms app not a web app –  JoelFan Apr 29 '13 at 18:40
1  
@JoelFan Hyperlinks link pages across an application as well, it is not just limited to web app. Anyways, edited the mockup to show what it does. –  rk. Apr 29 '13 at 18:44

The status bar is often used for displaying the state, edit mode, or otherwise non-editable non-critical information, without cluttering the main pane.

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

If however the information is crucial because the functionality becomes crippled / very different then it's always good to alert the user and make sure they acknowledge that particular detail upfront (you can still use a status bar or a label as a reminder later on)

mockup

download bmml source

reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Status_bar

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Hi @dnozay, welcome to UX.se! Can you explain why you think showing it in the status bar is a better alternative than the other answers? Currently, you answer seems incomplete. –  rk. Apr 30 '13 at 1:35
    
@rk, I actually don't know if it is better, it all depends on how much weight that information should have. –  dnozay Apr 30 '13 at 2:37

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