The company I work for is integrating some new users data into our platform and it's brought on a new set of challenges.

One area in which I'm undecided is this:

Users have a set of tags which can be applied to one or many profiles. In my simplistic example below, they are job roles and locations in which they have said role/roles.

Normally an administrator can edit these tags whenever they want but our PO has decided that these should be uneditable if they come from an integration. This has left me with two possible solutions, high levels examples:

Option 1: Show everything but give feedback based on an action i.e. they try to make a change. Pro is accessibility (no need to make opaque or greyed out). As these are rarely edited tags, this seems like a decent solution.

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Option 2: Make the "disabled" area opaque/greyed. No need for feedback, although not clear WHY it's uneditable. I think I need to add more context to satisfy the latter point.

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  • 4
    You have the information "Imported from third party" in the upper right corner. Why not just add some additional info (e.g. "Read only") there? Your first scenario would be frustratind because you don't know that you are unable to make changes and invest time in thinking about your action.
    – chrisbergr
    Jan 21, 2020 at 12:45
  • 1
    Yeah, I have added a line in now actually that informs the user that this is read only. I think that seems like the most simple option. Thanks
    – SimplyTheJ
    Jan 21, 2020 at 13:22
  • It took me a minute to understand the difference between what was editable and what not. I thought only buttons with checkmarks could be updated but later it made more sense. To avoid this confusion for others, I would also make it a panel style so that the all the elements are contained in that panel. You could also make the "Imported from third party" a disabled button and/or add "read only" like chrisbergr is suggesting as well.
    – aditya
    Feb 9, 2020 at 17:28

2 Answers 2


Adding to chrisbergr's comment, why not use colour and/or pattern to reinforce the difference between read only tags and the rest? A metalic or stone colour and pattern could reflect the immutable nature of read only tags.

I'm not sure why this Question is tagged with Accessibility, and your statement "Pro is accessibility (no need to make opaque or greyed out)." is confusing.


I had similar problem before: there was a control to select a person who will sign documents, but not any person is allowed to sign and we had to choose either:

  • person should not be presented in list
  • person should be in list but disabled
  • person should be selectable + validation

We tried all those options.

person was not presented in list users start to file bug reports - list is incomplete and they don’t see all persons

person was in list but disabled users start to call support and ask why it is disabled although there was a message box, explaining why some persons are disabled

person is selectable + validation Finally this worked, as the user who is not familiar with laws and legal domain can do what he wanted to do and only after that see red validation telling it is not possible. Also covering “I know better” / “I know what I’m doing” complain from users if they still wanted to select a person.

As opposite to @chrisbergr if field is disabled user have to invest time and understand why it is disabled. “I what to remove Doctor role, so what it is imported from external system? I still need it to be removed”

Windows users knows well when they stuck on who knows why checked and disabled checkbox with unclear explanation.

This is why I allow users do anything in all my new software, but if they go wrong direction, validation preventing them do bad things.

In your case, visually separate inherited uneditable roles is a must, so users won’t play minesweeper guessing what roles are removable and what roles are not.

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