When to use Radio Buttons and Checkboxes

Jakob Neilson’s newest Alertbox article discusses when to use checkboxes and radio buttons – good stuff that makes our web forms easier to use!

Here’s a useful little snippet:

  1. Radio buttons are used when there is a list of two or more options that are mutually exclusive and the user must select exactly one choice. In other words, clicking a non-selected radio button will deselect whatever other button was previously selected in the list.
  2. Checkboxes are used when there are lists of options and the user may select any number of choices, including zero, one, or several. In other words, each checkbox is independent of all other checkboxes in the list, so checking one box doesn’t uncheck the others.
  3. A stand-alone checkbox is used for a single option that the user can turn on or off.

Following eye movement in usability

Eyetrack III – What You Most Need to Know – very cool!

This summary shows what the eye does as it scans a webpage – and believe it or not, “The eyes most often fixated first in the upper left of the page, then hovered in that area before going left to right. Only after perusing the top portion of the page for some time did their eyes explore further down the page.”

Also – “Dominant headlines most often draw the eye first upon entering the page.”

Whoa, this one’s cool – “Smaller type encourages focused viewing behavior (that is, reading the words), while larger type promotes lighter scanning.”

And this – “Underlined headlines discouraged testers from viewing blurbs on the homepage… This may be related to a phenomenon that we noted throughout the testing: visual breaks — like a line or rule — discouraged people from looking at items beyond the break, like a blurb.”

And – “Eyetrack III found that people do typically look beyond the first screen. What happens, however, is that their eyes typically scan lower portions of the page seeking something to grab their attention. Their eyes may fixate on an interesting headline or a stand-out word, but not on other content. Again, this points to the necessity of sharp headline writing.”

Lots more stuff here – read it!