People seem to be missing this 'Enable SMS notifications' link at the top (which i can understand), I'm just looking for a suggestion as to how to make this more intuitive while still keeping the same layout.

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  • 4
    Please don't just accept the first answer you get after only being up for an hour. It is good that you've found an answer that you like, but it'll still be here in a few days ready to accept then too. This isn't S.O. and there isn't always one correct answer. If you leave it open for just 24 hours you may encourage even more answers that are appropriate (Note: This is not to take anything away from the currently accepted answer).
    – JonW
    Mar 9, 2012 at 22:05
  • @JonW I actually felt bad when I saw the quick accept; thanks for saying something as a mod.
    – jcmeloni
    Mar 10, 2012 at 1:24

2 Answers 2


This may or may not be considered "keeping the same layout" but what came to mind immediately was this: add checkboxes for SMS notifications next to each relevant entry. The space is already there.

What you have here makes it seem as if once you enable SMS notifications, you will get those notifications for all of the listed reasons. If that's not how the technical back-end works, then what I'll say here is irrelevant, but from the user's perspective, I can imagine they would want to be able to tune SMS notifications just like they can tune email notifications (the one exception being the first option, for the email digest).

Updated Based on the OP's comment that the technology doesn't support across-the board notifications, I'm adding more info below.

I would approach this in one of the following ways right now, where "now" means "the feature set isn't complete":

  • If the ability to fine-tune SMS notifications is coming reasonably soon, but only one of those options can be selected now, I might try putting "coming soon" or some similar of text in all that whitespace -- it would call attention to the one checkbox that is there, and it would show a feature that is coming soon. But only use that if it really is coming soon; otherwise, "N/A" would be more appropriate. One blank, 5 "N/A"s, and one checkbox isn't terrible, especially if it's a temporary thing and you want to keep this layout.
  • If there's an opportunity to do anything else with the layout, you might consider nixing the whole SMS notifications column entirely and splitting notifications into a section for email and a section for SMS. This is especially true if that one option for SMS is going to be the only option for quite some time, or if the requirements are never going to allow users to tune all of those options in the same way (see how Twitter splits mobile and email notification settings into two groups because the offerings are different).
  • yea, that's part of the problem too. right now, there is only one feature that allows text notifications, so the column only has that one checkbox, making it look empty...
    – mybilly
    Mar 9, 2012 at 18:34
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    @mybilly Wow. I absolutely didn't see that lone empty checkbox - sorry! I think my comments still stand as a good idea if the technology supports it. I'm going to edit my answer to add more info.
    – jcmeloni
    Mar 9, 2012 at 18:39
  • both great ideas, will be implementing one of them for sure. thanks!
    – mybilly
    Mar 9, 2012 at 19:10

I would try something like the image below. It allows you to keep a similar layout, while making it very clear that there is a step required to enable text notifications.

Revised screenshot

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    I was thinking greyed out check boxes under sms, with some overlay to indicate they are not active. Maybe an onclick state change to active?
    – Mike Hill
    Apr 26, 2012 at 17:51
  • @MikeHill - You don't think that could confuse the user if there is no explanation as to why the checkboxes are disabled? Apr 26, 2012 at 18:31
  • No, because they will know how a checkbox works. The above example gives me too many items to process and decide how they work. Phone icon, SMS Notification sub heading, box area, Potential message text, enable sms button. the checkbox eliminates any confusion, it's either on or off.
    – Mike Hill
    Apr 26, 2012 at 18:45

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