I'm adding a new option in a configuration screen. It's basically a simple radio-button / combobox / checkbox that either uses the default Setting A or the new Setting B.

Setting A is the current default setting and guaranteed to always work.

Setting B is a new setting that adds some additional functionality, but isn't always guaranteed to work.

GUI example:

enter image description here

A requirement is that if setting B doesn't work, that the system automatically uses setting A. I cannot detect beforehand if setting B will work unless the setting is saved and the system is rebooted (which takes about 10-20 seconds). This prohibits me of simply hiding the option if it's not relevant, or having some sort of "test setting" functionality.

Question: How do I make it clear that if setting B is selected, it might not work and/or will revert to setting A, BEFORE the user actually saves/reboots?

  • You could allow the user to select setting B and upon saving, explain the full effects of their choice in a popup, confirming that they'd like to continue under these conditions. Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 13:58

3 Answers 3


By the principle of least surprise it would be preferable to explain upfront, rather than "concern" the user by "raising a flag" on their choice.

Even with real estate limitations you may want to do something like:

Preferences: following settings may be auto-adjusted by the system (i)

Option C:

Option D:

With the "(i)" explaining that system stability could require the values to be modified to some other logical configuration.

Another challenge with UI is to explain: "last time you chose X but I (the system) had to override to Y". One can leave this to users memory, but with the Recognition rather than recall heuristic it is better UX not to do so. Tagging the selection with "(prior setting)" is one UI soloution.



In case you lack space and still want to draw the attention of the user, try having a "caution icon" like so:

Caution icon

This would make the user hover or click on it and the tooltip then provides the information

General Scenario

Something like this should do the trick.


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

  • I thought an explanatory text would be a good idea, but there's isn't really enough room to explain it. Would a tooltip on setting B help, or would that be too hidden?
    – DennisW
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 13:01
  • @DennisW - Edited my answer to cater your low on space scenario Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 13:41

Rather than using a radio option to select between setting A and B you could use a checkbox with only showing setting B stating that setting A will be used if it fails. This may require a bit more text to explain the default behavior (without more context it's difficult to say) but for an example:


I feel like the key word is "Experimental". It provides the idea that this could cause a failure, but the following text reassures the user that a failure will failover to a stable setting.

And if a third setting is added then maybe a radio to select the setting is the proper choice, and explaining that Setting A is used on failure above the radio options as other answers have explained. But if there's only ever the 1 extra option I think a simple checkbox should do the trick.

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