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In many interfaces, there is a set of default settings and then a need for the user to be able to override those with custom settings. Do you have any examples of how to handle this well in an interface? I'm thinking mainly about web forms.

Another way to put this is: "How to inherit settings for configurations?"

There are two reasons for making something like this: 1) Hiding the custom options by default simplifies the form 2) The default options can be coming from somewhere else (maybe project-specific settings), and if you don't have any custom settings set, updating the default value will affect all the items with the default settings.

I feel that a good solution would have the following properties: 1) It should be clear whether you have custom or default settings active 2) You should be able to easily go back from custom settings to the defaults

Also, there is the question, whether to show the custom settings to users that have default settings active or not.

A) I found a couple of examples with quick googling, all of them are more-or-less glorified radio-buttons that toggle the custom part of the form:

Check-box toggle

On-off switch

Another on-off switch

B) Another option would be to have the custom form always visible but to have a "reset" button to reset the form back to the default state with maybe a label showing that you have customised some of the settings.

C) A third approach would be similar to A but with checkbox saying "link this item to the global settings" (essentially the opposite checkbox state from the check boxes / radio buttons in A). This would be similar to the "use global light" setting in Photoshop:

enter image description here

  • Should the title of your question be 'custom vs default settings' rather than 'custom vs advanced settings'? I'm not sure how to interpret 'advanced' since you don't use that word anywhere in the body of the question – tohster Apr 27 '15 at 22:19
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    Good feedback, I updated the title. – Janne Aukia May 5 '15 at 11:11
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Great question!

I put together a small wireframe which could give you an idea to address our questions. "Use Default" checkbox will control if the setting should pull the value from Default configuration or Custom.

enter image description here

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In your situation, i would design this very simple solution by

  • Showing Status at all times

  • A control to easily switch to default and customize settings with single click any time

No need of repeating and showing advanced/custom settings toggle bars inside user creation/main task area

Use one line to show status if user is using customized settings and one big button on the right side so user can switch to customized or Default settings. Your app/system should save custom settings at all times

Here is the wire-frame showing my idea. Blue button on the right will work as a switch between customized and default settings. You can also replace the blue button with a toggle switch but it must be big enough to show both statuses...

wire-frame for customized settings

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