[thelist] displaying 'disabled' options

Rob Smith rob.smith at THERMON.com
Thu Feb 3 09:00:08 CST 2005

> Wouldn't the simplest solution be to simply not display the disabled
> options. What advantages/benefits do the users gain by seeing options
> they can't select? What situations might there be where viewing the
> disabled options is a good/bad thing?>

Now if I may expand this discussion a bit further on the "bad" side; this is
getting interesting. I built our intranet based on three levels of access:

User Level Definitions and Descriptions 

Level 1 
Everyone: Accessible by all employees' information contained here must be
suitable for all employees. A prime example of this group would be anyone
who has access to the Intranet. This information is generic in nature. 

Level 2 
Country Specific: Accessibility determined by the employees 'location'
within the company, such as corporate, etc., with the granularity to be
determined by each region. Information within these sections must be
suitable for employees who are allowed access to those sections. For
example, Europe has access to particular sections of the Employee Center
whereas some Asia Pacific employees do not.

Level 3 
Special Projects: Accessible to specific groups of employees as determined
by project requirements. These projects should be secured properly and use
the proper level of encryption where required. For example, the accounting
group has a Financial Planning section in the departments section that only
about 8 people can see that comprise of different departments/regions. 

Now imagine that this menu system is behind a drop down. Showing folks these
"disabled" options might start begging the question: "Why don't we have
'this' feature and they do?!" Thus, creating a sense of jealousy. However,
by simply hiding the unavailable options, they don't know the difference.
:-) It's not like we're racing to each others office comparing Intranet
Menu's either. We do actually work around here.

I call this design by ignorance. Sure, if certain employees find out about
that certain things exist, you can just as easily double check their
security levels on the targeted page and send them away upon denial. But 99%
of the time, simply not showing things exist prevents the event from
actually happening. Just the same, I could tell you that there is a personal
delivery option on Amazon.com where the president him/herself would deliver
the package for you. Now whether or not this is true remains to be seen.



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