Today I came across a dropdown menu in a web form for a yes/no question, and it didn’t sit well with me. Far too much for the user to think about when making their choice.
To enable the user to express a preference in this way you could use:
- Radio buttons
- A checkbox
- A dropdown menu
After googling around I found this interesting discussion and poll on the Isocra consulting blog.
I’d definitely go for radio buttons every time. The priority has to be ease of understanding and speed of cognition for the user.
I’d definitely go for radio buttons every time. The priority has to be ease of understanding and speed of cognition for the user
Nielsen has written that users dislike dropdown menus in general, and I’m inclined to agree – particularly in this case. The user has to consider what the box is asking them, note the ‘please select’ instruction, then [click], consider the options, make a decision, then [click].
A checkbox is technically the correct choice of interface element (it was designed to allow the user to select ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to something). But the supporting copy must be worded perfectly to make it clear to the user what they have selected. Confusing labels are increasingly common in this area, for example “Check this box if you DO NOT want to receive email updates”. So you’re making a positive selection when you’re actually saying ‘no’ to something. Hmm.
So I’d go for radio buttons because:
- The user can quickly scan both the question and possible answers in one go
- It is immediately obvious to them that they have 2 options, ‘yes’ or ‘no’
- They only have to click once to make their simple choice
- The user is forced to make a choice one way or the other (if neither radio button are initially selected)