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The first picture depicts a design of notification preferences that is really strongly inspired by Backplane's solution (the second picture), because it suits my case perfectly.

The client saw the original design and said that they want to include the Mobile Push notifications as well, despite there's no mobile version yet. They said they want to grey it out, so it does not bother the user, but it's still there, already implemented, ready to be used in the future. They say it's easier to put it there now, then to remake it once the mobile version exists. I was trying to explain that it makes it unnecessarily cluttered to include something that will not be used for a long while, but they kind of insisted. However the discussion has not ended yet I think, so I started to think about how to accommodate both ways.

  • I started with taking the mobile notifications and putting them on the side, instead of in the middle (it's already within the design).
  • Next I was thinking about hiding them altogether (not yet within the design), giving them the color of the background for example, so they're not "there" for the user to care about (my way), but it's still there, considering the code (client's way).

I know it's pretty weak, but it's a first thing that came to mind that goes along both lines of thinking.

Any thoughts as to why it's a bad idea? Or any other concepts to what I could do here?

The design

Backplane's design

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I would strongly discourage "hiding it in plain sight" like you suggested.

For one, aesthetically, your table will appear very unbalanced. More significantly, though, would be the potential damage to your users' trust if they happen to stumble across this hidden feature (for example, by accidentally selecting the region of the page where this hidden feature resides).

Why did they try to sneak this by me? What else are they trying to get away with? Why don't they offer this feature to me? There's not a setting to "enable mobile settings" anywhere...

As a developer myself, adding something like that later would be the same amount of UI work as adding it now. The design already has room for the additional setting, so the argument that "it will take more work to redo it later" doesn't hold any water. If this feature's "enabled" state is stored in the database, then you won't have to make any changes to this site once you do release the mobile application—you'd simply update the database, which wouldn't require any changes to your codebase.

From the marketing perspective, sure, add the settings in a disabled state, but be clear about why they're disabled. You can use this opportunity to "advertise" your upcoming mobile application release.

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This touches a lot of areas that are more to do with implementing a solution than designing one, and so aren't really suitable for UX... however:

Where to put the controls?

Starting with the most UX-focused question: where to put the greyed-out or hidden controls until mobile is ready? I think it depends on whether you end up going for hiding or greying-out:

  • If you hide the controls, then I think leaving them in the middle (as in the backplane image) looks more "balanced". Having them on the right and not visible would, I think, make the page "lop-sided".

  • If you grey-out the controls, then they are probably best on the right (as in your revision) so that the active controls are met first.

Given that you almost certainly don't want to alter the order of controls once the mobile version is available, this boils down to whether you want the controls visible-but-greyed-out (move them to the right) or hidden (leave them in the centre). That is a question for you and the client.

Design now or later?

If, as you mention in a comment, it's going to be a year before the mobile version is ready then I would definitely avoid the visible-but-disabled option. Also, unless it is already written (or nearly so), I'd probably avoid the implemented-but-invisible option (there's too high a chance that the design will change between now and then).

(If it was more like a month or so, then I'd probably side with building them in now and hiding/greying-out until needed).

How to Hide?

How you hide elements depends on the framework used to build the page. However, simply "giving them the color of the background" is probably the worst way! Although the user cannot see them, they can probably still manipulate the controls, and may therefore accidentally set up all sorts of options they didn't mean to.

  • How would you then hide those controls? And about this order - if I would hide the controls for a while (in the middle) and then decided it's time for them to show up, would it be wrong to widen the space between other controls (web and mail) to put the mobile? Not changing the order per se, but alter the arrangement a little bit, moving the mail controls a bit to the right? (because putting mail controls far to the right from the beginning would be pretty suspicious for sure). – Ola Osinska Mar 12 '18 at 15:42
  • How you do it is getting outside the scope of UX, and will depend heavily on what framework (if any) you are using to generate your web-pages. Through whatever method your framework allows, you might omit the elements from the DOM altogether (or use display:none) which would tend to move the other bits together, or you might use visibility:hidden which would leave the space for the controls but not show them. [cont] – TripeHound Mar 12 '18 at 16:04
  • [cont] The latter was probably what I was thinking of in leaving the hidden controls in the middle: yes, there will be a gap, but (a) that probably won't look too odd (especially if you've not seen the three-control version) and (b) the other controls won't move when you enable them. – TripeHound Mar 12 '18 at 16:04
  • So let's say I would go with the visible, but disabled options for mobile. Isn't it wrong to do so as it won't be used for example for a year? This is what bugs me the most - users would look at a functionality that isn't coming anytime soon. I thought this is a real problem - hence my question here in the first place - to display to users something they can't do anything with for a long time. – Ola Osinska Mar 13 '18 at 10:31
  • If it's going to be a year (you'd not mentioned a time-scale before), I'd definitely agree that it would be out-of-place to have them there-and-disabled, and I'd push for either the not-implemented or the non-visible options. (If it was a month or two, then as maxathousand notes, it could be a marketing tool to advertise the up-and-coming mobile version). – TripeHound Mar 13 '18 at 10:51

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