I am currently working on a widget that users can integrate on their website. While this widget has been tailored to be responsive in terms of width and height, it has ways for users to customize it. They can have a mobile only view or desktop only view or a hybrid of the two. They can turn off automatic height and automatic width. In the future I plan on expanding the ability to customize the widget by allowing them to alter the colors. The "default" view is auto height, auto width, with the mobile and desktop view. The biggest problem is that I will not know if the user will be technically skilled enough to know exactly what each option does.

My question is: is giving users more options to customize the widget better or is it more likely to cause confusion, if so how I do present the customization options without overwhelming the user?

  • 1
    what problems are you attempting to solve by letting people set 'mobile view only' or 'desktop view only'?
    – DA01
    Jul 6, 2015 at 15:57
  • Several users have sub-domain mobile sites. (m.website.com) And they don't want the possibility of the mobile view displaying for some users (for instance say tablet users). Many of them also only want the desktop view for aesthetic reasons.
    – Ben
    Jul 6, 2015 at 16:00
  • 1
    those sounds like workarounds to a poor design to begin with. So, I'd argue these are enablers more than features. That said, I don't know the intricacies of your product. Sounds like this is a 'website builder' of some sorts? If so, these might be perfectly acceptable features to include. After all, an authoring tool often has many features as it fits the needs of authoring.
    – DA01
    Jul 6, 2015 at 16:05

2 Answers 2


Show common options / Hide complex ones

Users should rarely interact with customization options. There are times when one user needs a slightly different configuration than another but if the initial defaults are done right this won't happen a lot. It's okay to make configuration options hidden behind a tiny gear icon or edit link.

If you find that most users do need to customize things in your application then look for a way to make your application the way most users like it by default.

Google's Chrome browser hides certain things that most users don't need to mess with under special links that can be typed in the address bar including settings...

  • chrome://cache
  • chrome://version
  • chrome://settings

At the bottom of the settings page you can see that only the most common ones are exposed to the user unless they click the "Show advanced settings..." link at the bottom of the page.

chrome settings

  • you can get a list of all the chrome urls by typing this is the chrome address bar -- chrome://chrome-urls
    – DaveAlger
    Jul 6, 2015 at 17:00

In an instance where you are hoping that users will want to place your widget on their website you really should allow them to customise it as much as possible to fit in with the colour-scheme.

However, my suggestion here would be that you offer two levels of settings for the more and less tech-savvy users. When the user opens the settings they will find the basic settings but there would also be a link/tab that allows them to access 'advanced settings'

Basic settings for a widget like yours might include: width, height, simple screen position (top-right, top-left, bottom-right, bottom-left), and a choice of preset colour-schemes.

More complex options may revolve around mobile only view, desktop only view, a hybrid view, what content is displayed, precise screen positioning and custom colour schemes.

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