I am working on a web application where an item will have a series of default values associated to it. On the form itself a number of these items can be composed into a collection (think basket on e-commerce sites for the sake of an example).

Usually, these default values (displayed in a text box) will be fine, but the user can override these if they so wish. How is such a thing normally displayed? Elsewhere on the same form, there is already coloured text to indicate one behaviour and also a question mark tooltip for another behaviour so I'm stumped as to how this sort of thing would normally be indicated. It must be quite common on the web but I can't think of an example off the top of my head.

  • 2
    There is no common display metaphor. It all depends on your situation and your requirements. Does it even need to be indicated? Often times, no. How important is an override? I've shown it as a bright yellow background, because it is important. I've shown it as a subtle border highlight, because it's good to know but nothing beyond that. There is ultimately no right way to do it, nor a definitive answer of if you should do it or not. Nov 30 '15 at 23:21
  • It does need to be indicated as the override would apply even if items were added and removed. The user may question why this value isn't changing but others are. A different background might be a good idea...
    – Robbie Dee
    Nov 30 '15 at 23:33

Google Chrome's developer tools for CSS does a pretty good job of when a value that was set and then overridden by another value. They use a strikethrough to show that it has been overridden:

enter image description here

I would potentially add a roll over state (if it is a desktop accessible experience) or a ? to show there is more information.

  • This works because the target audience for the tool understands that CSS has rules that can be inherited and overridden. It's not clear if Robbie Dee's users will have similar understanding or expectations of what overrides mean in that form. Dec 1 '15 at 19:09
  • True. If they don't understand why something would be overridden then that is a bigger issue. I would ask then whether they should be able to edit those values at all. Dec 1 '15 at 19:59

If I understood your question correctly, you may be interested in looking at Displaying custom vs default settings question

Hiding a tooltip for each field behind an icon is an option, but I would not recommend it as it will require an action from the user and perhaps make the main row more complicated with icons (icons attract quite a lot of attention and may compete with primary content you want the user to focus on).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.