I will be creating a graphic to allow laboratory technicians to view the temperature (and humidity and one or two other parameters, however, I will just describe temperature) in their room.

The room will have a default room temperature setpoint as well as a default high alarm temperature and default low alarm temperature.

They have the ability to edit and override these three values.

If the setpoint, high alarm, or low alarm values are not equal to the default values, what indication should be used to let them know? A separate indication for each of the values should be displayed.

1 Answer 1


This is a fairly wide open UI question, but worthy of general discussion.

Two primary options come to mind:

  1. Color (usability concerns if used alone)
  2. Icons

The two together can boost clarity, depending on context. Just be sure to consider how various levels and kinds of color blindness will impact this indicator.

However you do it, also provide a "reset to default" for each logical grouping that has been modified. This provides further reinforcement that edits have been made and an easy way to reset the system in case of problems.

Here's a rough example of all of that working together.

Simple form with default and edited values

  • Thanks plainclothes. Yes, I will have a "reset to default". I like your use of both color and icons. I was trying to determine a good icon for "overridden". Is your use of the pencil to indicate a call to action to edit, or that it has been overridden? Dec 1, 2015 at 23:39
  • There's definitely some learning involved: my intent was to show that it was edited whereas the grey ones are default. You could go the other way with it and use the pencil as a CTA to edit the defaults. Try a few options on your users and see what works for them. Dec 1, 2015 at 23:50
  • What do you think for an image as an "unequal" sign? Too techy? Dec 2, 2015 at 2:34
  • Next to a number, might convey the wrong meaning. Dec 2, 2015 at 3:12
  • Yes it might, but what is better? Started a similar post ux.stackexchange.com/questions/87599/… Thank you for your advise. Dec 2, 2015 at 3:48

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