I'm currently working on an Android application that has a lot of (over 250) individual settings. During most of the app's existence there was no designer working on it, so the settings UI is mostly (categorized) lists and dialogs.

It is an email client, so some of the options are server-related, but most are about customizing the app. Some setting affect others in different ways.

A lot of our users have spent time customizing the app and they seem to love all the customization abilities. However I'm worried that new(-er) users may feel intimidated, get lost, have difficulty finding what they need, and so on, therefore abandon the application.

We have a search function in the Settings screen, but what else can I do? Are there any best practices for cases like this?

Thanks a lot!

  • Have you considered surveying your current users, and seeing if settings occur in groups, e.g., if Setting A is ON, setting B is also highly likely to be ON? If so, you might want to consider "setting themes", where selecting one item from a menu applies several settings at once. Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 14:37

1 Answer 1


• Cluster the settings and create meaningful categories (for example: general settings, signature settings etc.)

• different between "normal" settings and "advanced settings", advanced people usually have no problems digging a bit deeper and expect "advanced settings", while normal users get overwhelmed with too many settings.

• Gather data from your database: what are the most used settings currently? Which are the settings that get used the least?

I would recommend you check other popular applications with a lot of settings too.

You should definitely test all of this before you release it, your current users will react really harshly to changes, that's always the case when stuff changes, even if it gets better.

You need to confirm that it is better and that's why you do testing before changing anything.

  • 1
    Another point on gathering data on frequently used settings - if you find that there are some settings that users are using infrequently, its worth questioning whether these settings are over complicating your application rather than adding value
    – Joe Taylor
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 23:05

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