Are required field notations really necessary with radio button selections?

13 Nov 2007 - 7:30pm
6 years ago
3 replies
876 reads
Stephen Dondershine
2007

Does one necessarily need to add an asterisk indicating that a selection is
required for a radio button selection form input?

It seems to me that one can argue two ways:

1.) The fact that some item in the radio button group will always be
selected tacitly implies that the input is required. It is really impossible
for the User not to mae a selection, so why bother to indicate that it's a
required field?

2.) Nevertheless, the required field asterisk draws the User's attention to
the field input itself and the fact that there is potentially a decision to
be made. It is therefore worth including.

Thoughts?

Steve

Comments

13 Nov 2007 - 7:57pm
Steve Baty
2009

Stephen, it's possible to code radio button sets so that no option is
selected by default (by leaving out the 'selected' attribute of all elements
in the set). This is often more useful as it forces a decision by the user
instead of allowing them to roll on through the form without consideration.

Note also that, in situations where most of the form fields are mandatory
the asterisk might better be utilised to indicate optional fields.

Hope that helps
Steve

On 14/11/2007, Stephen Dondershine <sdondershine at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> Does one necessarily need to add an asterisk indicating that a selection
> is
> required for a radio button selection form input?
>
> It seems to me that one can argue two ways:
>
> 1.) The fact that some item in the radio button group will always be
> selected tacitly implies that the input is required. It is really
> impossible
> for the User not to mae a selection, so why bother to indicate that it's a
> required field?
>
> 2.) Nevertheless, the required field asterisk draws the User's attention
> to
> the field input itself and the fact that there is potentially a decision
> to
> be made. It is therefore worth including.
>
> Thoughts?
>
> Steve
> ________________________________________________________________
>
>
----------------------------------------------
Steve 'Doc' Baty B.Sc (Maths), M.EC, MBA
Director, User Experience Strategy
Red Square
P: +612 8289 4930
M: +61 417 061 292

Member, UPA - www.upassoc.org
Member, IxDA - www.ixda.org
Member, Web Standards Group - www.webstandardsgroup.org
Contributor, UXMatters - www.uxmatters.com

14 Nov 2007 - 5:02am
Chauncey Wilson
2007

Radio buttons (or as they are often called, "option buttons") in the
early days of GUIs were used to select a choice from a set of items
and early style guides noted that one of the radio buttons had to be
chosen. The selection wasn't really "tacit" it was explicit. I noticed
in the mid 1990s that there were radio button designs being used in
online questionnaires (before surveymonkey and the like) where none of
the radio buttons was chosen as early style guides had mandated. I
think that I first saw it on a medical application where the physician
had to check various items about a patient's health. The underlying
metaphor had changed here from the physical radio set in old cars
where you always had a station selected (unless your buttons broke) to
that of a questionnaire where a person was required to make a choice,
but you didn't want to preselect a choice to bias the task. So, if you
are following the questionnaire model where you don't prefill a
default radio button (to prevent bias), then putting an asterisk
beside the field is reasonable. If you have radio buttons where there
a default choice is prefilled, then the asterisk does not seem to make
sense.

Chauncey

On Nov 13, 2007 7:30 PM, Stephen Dondershine <sdondershine at gmail.com> wrote:
> Does one necessarily need to add an asterisk indicating that a selection is
> required for a radio button selection form input?
>
> It seems to me that one can argue two ways:
>
> 1.) The fact that some item in the radio button group will always be
> selected tacitly implies that the input is required. It is really impossible
> for the User not to mae a selection, so why bother to indicate that it's a
> required field?
>
> 2.) Nevertheless, the required field asterisk draws the User's attention to
> the field input itself and the fact that there is potentially a decision to
> be made. It is therefore worth including.
>
> Thoughts?
>
> Steve
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

18 Nov 2007 - 10:56pm
DrWex
2006

Sorry for the late reply. Been job-hunting and behind on mail.

With respect to radio buttons, there should always be a selected item.
If the application permits no selection then I would create a "none"
option.

The reason for this is that if a person makes a selection, then
changes her mind, there is no other way to un-set it. If the form
requires a selection, then establish a good default and have that be
selected at form creation time.

My two cents, of course.

--Alan

Syndicate content Get the feed