[thelist] RE: checked vs. unchecked boxes

Joshua Olson joshua at waetech.com
Wed Oct 20 15:45:42 CDT 2004

> -----Original Message-----
> From: head lemur
> Sent: Wednesday, October 20, 2004 4:28 PM
> > > "Pre-selection" of boxes, boxes that are already checked prior to 
> > > any user selection, is an abomination.
> I agree. My language selection would be a bit saltier, See Below...
> > There are times when checking a box by default makes sense.
> There are no times/zero/zip/nada when having a check box 
> prechecked makes a n y  sense.

Devils advocate for a moment.

Scenario one...

Let's say you want to give the user the option to receive a copy of the
information upon receipt and history has shown that 99.9% of people want a
receipt.  You have a couple options:

1.  Give them an unchecked checkbox that is labeled "send me a receipt".
99.9% of people want a receipt, but it seems likely that less than that will
check the box by simple oversight.

2.  Give them an unchecked checkbox that is labeled "do not send me a
receipt".  This will help that 99.9% of people get the receipt.  But, it
violates the Jakob Nielsen rule about using negatives.

3.  Give them radio buttons?  Now the question becomes more complicated...
"would you like to receive a receipt?"  Ok, so if I select "Yes" am I
actually going to get one, or am I just telling them I want one?  Also,
presentation gets all gummed up, potentially.  Because of the nature of the
question, you would expect the question to appear before the answers.
Depending on how the form is laid out, this may "break the flow" so to

4.  Give them a pre-checked checkbox that is labeled "send me a receipt".
Does this not seem like the best option?

Scenario two...

A person is updating their preferences.  The last time they updated their
settings they specifically checked an option.   When they look now, would it
not be nice to have the same option checked?

Joshua Olson
Web Application Engineer
WAE Tech Inc.

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