I'm working on a hardware+software product that displays video. It has a brightness/contrast control. Unfortunately, it plugs into another machine (made by a 3rd party) that also has a brightness/contrast control, and the two controls cascade. How terribly confusing! Anyone who tries to use both ultimately gets the brightness/contrast so far off they can't see anything at all.
Now, we need the user to have access to our brightness/contrast control in some situations, such as during installation or a telephone support call. But we don't want them to use it for general operation. To this end we have tried:
The software can show/hide the brightness/contrast, hidden by default. Unfortunately, the user always shows it.
The installation instructions say, "After setup is complete, hide the brightness/contrast control and do not use it again." Unfortunately, the user never does this.
The user manual says not to use the brightness/contrast, but this instruction is never followed.
Other approaches I've considered but am not confident in include:
Have the controls auto-hide after a time -- I suspect the users are clever enough to re-show them as needed, and might even complain to me that they keep hiding.
Like above, but require a password to show the controls -- Potentially same issue.
Show the controls in an irritating color, like bright red, maybe make the letters "quiver" -- Unfortunately I suspect most of our users will not be deterred. Our users are scientists and engineers and once they know a setting exists, they are determined to get at it, and aesthetics do not discourage them.
Ultimately I will probably try the above approaches and see what happens. But I would like to know if there are other strategies I have not considered?