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364: How to Design Better Settings

September 16, 2020

This week, we deep dive into tips and strategies for building a better settings experience in your product. In The Sidebar, we discuss the efficacy of paginating onboarding screens.

Golden Ratio Patrons:

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This week we're supported by Webflow! Webflow gives designers the power of code in a visual interface, allowing them to directly build whatever they have in mind without engineers.

Webflow is perfect for prototyping and user testing. It allows you to embed interactive details like hover animations, responsive layout changes, and anything else that the real product might have.

Webflow lets you create standards-compliant HTML, CSS, and JS with familiar, visual tools. Because of this, you can give your developers something more than static mocks: start building fully responsive, interactive websites. You can even use real data and structured content, providing for more accurate user research sessions and more realistic flows.

When you’re done prototyping, Webflow writes clean, production-ready code for you. Hand it off to a developer for implementation — or just publish straight to your custom domain.

Learn more at for 10% off annual plans on any new account.

Latest VIP Patrons:

  • Walter Kimaro
  • RayBizarre

The Sidebar:

The Sidebar is an exclusive weekly segment for our Patreon supporters. You can subscribe starting at $1 per month for access to full episodes going forward! Sign up at

In this week's Sidebar, we talk about the efficacy of paginated onboarding screens, and suggest alternative onboarding patterns that we've learned about through experience.

Follow up:

  • Brian is testing Marshall's work journaling strategy. One week in, so far so good! Marshall also put together a sample outline for anyone curious about seeing how this might work in practice.

Main Topic:

This week's listener question comes from Priscilla Then, who asks:

  1. What's the difference between "Settings", "Configuration", and "System" (would it be appropriate to have all 3)?
  2. How should "Settings" be used?
  3. Should Settings be displayed visually "apart" from the rest of the first-level navigation options, like how Shopify does it (putting all things in the left sidebar from the top, but the settings at the bottom)?
  4. What do you think of companies that have multiple, tiered settings (like Zoom)? Do you think that they executed it well?

Cool Things:

  • Brian shared, a magical website that now has an accompanying iOS app. You should download it right now and experience it in all its beauty.
  • Marshall re-shared Copilot, a fantastic app that will change the way you use money. The team has been making a ton of improvements in the past few months, including better recurring transactions support, rules-based transaction categorization, budget rollover, and new account types.
    • Use Marshall's code B7NG7A when you're signing up for some bonuses all around!

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