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I'm working with a GUI that has some tables that contain check-boxes (Just as iTunes does).

iTunes Checkboxes within Table

The surprising thing is that the checkboxes in the system I'm working on get checked or unchecked after double clicking them, which is not intuitive at all!

How can we prevent users from clicking a checkbox by mistake? Can double click checkboxes be made usable?

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Make them big enough so its hard to 'miss click'. Show that when you select them 'something' will happen. Check if the double click actions have some underlying motive and you might even consider reporting that you have to double click to a bug list. –  Barfieldmv Jun 21 '12 at 6:56
    
I'm not sure that this question is worded correctly. The questions being asked are for opinions, which are subjective. –  zzzzBov Jun 21 '12 at 15:54
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@zzzzBov I made some edits to that last sentence. Generally asking "what works" makes a much better question than "what is your personal opinion", because asking for opinions means answers are all equally valid –  Ben Brocka Jun 21 '12 at 16:24
    
thanks @zzzzBov, You were right... Thanks for editing... one can get lost easily in the depths of the problem and type it wrong... haha :) –  edgarator Jun 22 '12 at 5:24

4 Answers 4

up vote 20 down vote accepted

What I think about double-click Checkboxes:

This is one of the most terrible ideas i've heard about in a while. Users expect a checkbox to be single-click. Period.


There is no problem with accidently clicking checkboxes:

Actions triggered by checkboxes should be instantly reversible per se. Thus, miss-clicking should be a non-issue, since a simple second click will restore the previous state.

If this is not the way your checkboxes behave, please replace them with buttons!


What you can do to make it even less a problem:

Your question is a textbook example for Fitts' Law:

[…] we see a speed–accuracy trade off associated with pointing, whereby targets that are smaller and/or further away require more time to acquire.

According to that, you should basically make your checkboxes:

  • Big, so they're hard to miss
  • and/or positioned in such a way that the average distance the mouse has to travel to a checkbox is minimal.
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1  
I was unaware of Fitt's law, and though I appreciate all the answers, yours is comprehensive and answers clear. Of course I'll read the article. –  edgarator Jun 21 '12 at 9:09
    
Great answer, +1. –  Bart Gijssens Jun 21 '12 at 12:39

In short; they have imposed an action that frustrates users performing a regular task to avoid something that has little consequence and can be undone easily. Bad idea.

It's not like they are buttons to launch nuclear warheads.

This is why the "Are you sure you want to proceed" dialogues should become scarce. The better option is to make the progress quick and smooth. If an error occurs, allow it to be easily undone. It is an outdated mindset to include gates and walls to avoid every potential 'error'.

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Are you positive the checkboxes are not meant for warhead target selection? :p –  vzwick Jun 21 '12 at 11:57
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Perhaps before hitting the red button you have to select '[x] I agree to the Terms and Conditions and acknowledge that processing an 'undo' request for nuclear winter will take up to 34 million business days.' –  Jay Jun 21 '12 at 12:13

Double click = wasted effort and against convention, so bad practice. I think the question is not so much how can we stop users from clicking in a checkbox by mistake, but what are the consequences in this application of a user clicking in a checkbox by mistake. If a song does or doesn't get added to a checkbox, then it's not mission critical. There are good design principles you can apply (make the boxes bigger for one) but this has a trade off in that fewer options are immediately visible, which reduces the usability of the application in other ways. You might want to consider testing with users and observe how they use this type of application in anger - it might give you more insight into how you can make your design smarter for this audience.

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How about only allowing an item to be ticked when you mouse/hover over it for a second? That way random clicking on the page would not reproduce unwanted ticks.

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For the love of god, please do not interfere with common user behavior patterns. –  vzwick Jun 21 '12 at 12:52
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I can see this causing more issues than it solves. If at first click the checkbox does nothing the user probably won't just wait 1 second to try again; they'd repeatedly jab the checkbox multiple times instead, at some point the 1 second will expire and they'd still be toggling the tick on-and-off, but you'd just have annoyed the user more in the process. (That is an assumption though, everything is worth A/B testing just incase.) –  JonW Jun 21 '12 at 14:32

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