In my educational game application, there are teams and the players on those teams. Historically, players could play any game they want (classic mode), but now I'm implementing a feature to limit the allowed games to the ones chosen by the team leader (teacher). We're calling this "focus" mode.

The focus can be set for the whole team, as shown, but the teacher can override per player to allow individual players to be more or less advanced than the team as a whole:

enter image description here

In testing, we're finding that some people don't understand this hierarchical relationship, or at least are confused by what happens when you change a team. One user thinks that if, say, you remove the "Early" level from the team focus, then it should be removed from all players, even though the whole point of the UI is to allow players to differ from their team. On the other hand, maybe that is a reasonable interpretation of the UI, and there should at least be a prompt asking if that's what you'd like to happen.

Can anyone offer guidance about how, in a situation like this, changes to a parent should propagate to its children and how such a relationship should be represented in the UI?

3 Answers 3


Try splitting a view mode table with another column showing additional permissions. Give them a chance to edit individual permissions on hover.

I don't know if I understand the interaction fully, but it seems like the user goes into 'focus mode' for editing, and I'm assuming there's a view mode, which shows the results.

Could you separate the team permissions from the individual permissions, and allow a quick edit on hover at the row level for an individual user?

You might call permissions at the user level, 'Additional user permissions', but I would test on users to see if they understand the concept.

enter image description here

or, allow a batch option, so multiple users can be assigned a permission at the user level, regardless of team:

enter image description here


Is 'focus mode' the right term here? Why not just tell the user they're either editing at the team level, or at the individual level?

Focus seems like it can be an overloaded/generic term: users are 'focused' on whatever they are applying deep concentration to. That could describe almost any concentrated effort.


A multi-select dropdown might be a way to keep this visually simple.

The default setting for each student could read "Use Team Permissions":

A closed dropdown menu showing a Use Team Permissions label

When the administrator expands the dropdown, the default option is checked:

An expanded dropdown menu, showing Use Team Permissions checked, and with other options

If the administrator checks any other options, the "Use Team Permissions" box becomes unchecked. Likewise, if the "Use Team Permissions" box becomes checked again, the other boxes become unchecked.

An expanded dropdown menu, showing the Use Team Permissions unchecked, and other options checked

When the menu collapses, the selected options are shown, separated by commas.

A collapsed dropdown menu that reads Early, Beginner


You can also use hierarchical lists / tables to implement this, as shown in this Grid example.

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