[thelist] RE: checked boxes or unchecked boxes

ANDREA STREIGHT astreight at msn.com
Wed Oct 20 19:05:48 CDT 2004

Make it easy for users? If it's just one check mark, how does this make it 
easy for users?

The logic here seems to be: "We already pre-checked the box you very likely 
want to have checked, so now we saved you the trouble of checking one box."

Pre-checking a box is, in my opinion, forcing an option on a user, even if 
it's a highly likely option.

A pre-selected box should really just be a Submit button, not a check box. 
You know most users want to perform a task, you provide a button to activate 
this performance. Not a pre-selected box, with another non-pre-selected box 
next to it.

And it is a very troublesome scenario where even checking one box has no 
effect on the pre-checked box. Bottom line: users sometimes get things they 
do not want.

At the online forums and blogs I've frequented, after you write a comment, 
there's a button you click called Submit or Say It or whatever. Your comment 
is then posted after you click on Submit. They know that if you wrote a 
comment, you are nearly 100% likely to want to submit it, yet they don't 
auto-submit it for you, say if it sits there unedited for over 15 seconds or 

You still have to click on that Submit button, or Preview it first then 
Submit. I've not seen Preview pre-checked, even though most blogs probably 
prefer a person Preview first to check for typos and to cool down any rage 
that might be present.

I have seen these pre-selected forms, usually many pre-checked boxes, that I 
have to unselect, and it's not making my life any easier at all. Generally, 
if I see a slew of pre-selected boxes, I figure they have poor marketing 
sense, lacking in customer friendliness, and possibly worse qualities, pushy 
to say the least, so I will bail out and move on to other business.

Forms Philosophy is vital on the web, since here is where most interaction 

Again, there might be situations where pre-selection is a true convenience 
and benefit to users, but the post-selection display of previous 
user-selected options, like in a profile update, is still the only case I 
know of.

Steven Streight
Web Usability Analysis
Web Content Writing
Online & Direct Marketing

astreight at msn.com

www.vaspersthegrate.blogspot.com  *Web Usability*

www.streightsite.blogspot.com  *Mentally Correct Marketing*

*Experimental Computer Art*

www.stcsig.org/usability/newsletter/0408-user-observation.html  *latest 
published online article* 

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