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I wanted some ideas for a mockup for a preferences page. Basic problem is how to deal with global preferences - e.g. I only want to get SMS not email conflicting with product preferences - e.g. some emails send documents so you can't use SMS only. So I need to mockup two options

Global comms opt out – do we:

  1. Let them opt out and tell them which services will break OR
  2. Not let them opt out and tell them which products are overriding their preferences

Does anyone have some design patterns or know of a website that solves this problem

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There are at least two concerns to input validation,

  • Flag to the user that the selection is invalid
  • Prevent dirty data from being saved

If your user first chooses a square peg and then chooses a round hole, it could be that upon discovering a conflict she changes her mind and makes a decision for round pegs and holes instead. Allowing her to enter a round hole (even with a square peg) will help avoid her having to go back and first enter the round peg and then move back to the round hole option. That's three field navigations the user has to do instead of four, which I would consider to be a user-friendly implementation.

At form submission, there are also at least two options when it comes to dirty data:

  • Either the data is so bad that it would lead to system errors, in which case the user has to be confronted with a hard error,
  • Or the combination of preferences might lead to a reduced usability of certain features for the user, in which case an "are you sure? you can return to solve this problem later." message could be appropriate

One website where I find this particularly user-friendly is the configuration panel for the e-store at Falcon Northwest. You can check it out and try to intentionally make a conflicting configuration to see how they implemented it here. The simplest conflict arises on this site when you add components that require power, but you don't upgrade the power supply.

  • Thanks Mishax - great answer - nice concise summary of the data structure - I'll check out the site. – transitioned May 21 '14 at 23:22
  • Thanks Renaud - problem is the files are critical to the business process (which I should have mentioned) so that's equivalent to going with option 1. I'm a BA but I don't have access to UX support currently so I'm just trying to put the options in an easily understandable format to the business. – transitioned May 21 '14 at 23:24
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Both solutions will create frustration to the user and you have to avoid that. The purpose of your interface is to be perfectly adapted so the user cannot do something impossible.

In your exemple, why don't accept to send him an sms but inform him that he won't get the files

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