In our application, we have a small bar with settings. We're currently adding the ability to save multiple rulesets of settings that the user can easily switch between.

I've added a simple combobox with Add, Delete and Rename buttons to create a new ruleset. The selected ruleset will be the active one.

Example Mock up:

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Now here's my issue. If the user wants to edit a ruleset, he first has to change it to the correct ruleset, which will make that set active, before he can edit it. But what if the user doesn't want that set active at the moment and just wants to edit it?

My immediate thought was to add another button "Set Active":

enter image description here

But how do i indicate which set is active? I'd imagine that adding an indicator in the combobox would not make it very transparent.

enter image description here

3 Answers 3


You should always strive to keep indication of system status available at all times. This is the very first of Jakob Nielsen's 10 heuristics.

The color solution from Nash is fancy (as is the checkbox solution in the original question), but it hides the status of the system and forces the user to have to expose the dropdown in order to see what the active profile is. This causes the user to work harder when there are simpler (albeit less fancy) solutions available.

Placing a simple label above the dropdown keeps the relevant information visible at all times:

Edited mockup

This also helps with keeping tasks/actions separated.


You could color the button and the active profile with the same color indicating the link between the two.


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups


The workflow seems to be:

  1. Select a profile
  2. Do something with it

The combo box is used for selection (1), so I would hesitate to give it a second task, such as indicating state. A button to activate the selected profile (2) would be consistent with the buttons that are already there for deleting and editing.

(The button for adding a new profile could even be set apart from the actions that do something with the selected profile.)

You could display text telling the user which profile is currently active (maybe above the combo box).

A second text or header may be used to indicate which profile is being edited.

After (2) the combo box could revert to ‘option zero’ to avoid confusion about the meaning of the currently selected option.

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