[thelist] Accessibility/usability of "Select Option" at top of list

Matt Warden mwarden at gmail.com
Mon Jan 15 11:00:57 CST 2007

On 1/15/07, Steven Streight <steven.streight at gmail.com> wrote:
> I am against pre-checked check boxes and I think it was on this discussion
> list about a year or two ago that we debated it endlessly. If an option is

It was actually the default selection of *radio buttons* that was
debated endlessly. On the surface, this may sound minor; actually, it
is a very important distinction to those on the opposing side of the
debate, if you review the thread.

> As I read your email more closely, you claim to have seen "Select Option" as
> first option in an options selection list? That's crazy. Why would anyone do
> that? Sounds very stupid at face value. "Select Option" is a headline, not
> an option in itself.

The point is to have a default value set to an invalid option.
Otherwise, you cannot be sure whether the user interacted with that
control, or if they just didn't see the form field and you're getting
a default value.

Whether the label for that invalid option is "Select Title" or just an
empty string is a minor detail.

In my opinion, having the select box default to an invalid option
increases the usability of the control in all but rare cases.

Matt Warden
Cleveland, OH, USA

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