[thelist] RE: checked vs. unchecked boxes

Joshua Olson joshua at waetech.com
Thu Oct 21 08:38:22 CDT 2004

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Sarah Sweeney
> Sent: Thursday, October 21, 2004 8:47 AM
> > 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:
> Question: how do you determine that 99.9% of people want a 
> receipt? Was it simply a matter of having a pre-checked 
> checkbox which most people left checked "by simple oversight"?


If you know your users, then you will know the statistics.  If you don't
have historical records from which to pull, solicit feedback on how to make
the experience "better".  Web developers, in general, tend to isolate
themselves from the fact that the USERS are the ones USING the system.
Users typically know how to *use* the system better than we, as developers,
do.  They are in it all the time, they know the bugs, they live with the

Users will misuse and abuse a system without a second thought if it gets the
job done.  I'm always surprised by their ingenuity.  I'm always surprised
when they use a system in a way I, as the developer, hadn't envisioned.

Users will grumble under their breath for 6 months about how it would be
much quicker if only the system would do this or that.  I'm always surprised
when they tell me they've suffered for 6 months because the tab ordering on
fields was out of whack--or that they have to save a new record, then go
back and update it every time because the "add new" routine failed to store
one particular data item to the database.  A two minute fix for me, but they
just accept it as "how it works".  Once you ask them, or notice a trend in
the logs that is odd (why did they always save and then go back and update
immediately after), then the system improves.

Historical trends will tell you if 99.9% of users do something a certain
way.  Users will gladly tell you if it'd be better/quicker to precheck a
field for them.  It's just a matter of looking and asking.  If we build and
walk away...

Joshua Olson
Web Application Engineer
WAE Tech Inc.

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