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I am designing a simple signup form that asks the user for their email address and then allows them to self-identify as a certain type of user (optionally) before submitting. I.e. the user is signing up for a base service but can opt to give me extra information about themselves if they like.

I'd like something way more interesting than two checkboxes. Has this type of interaction been done lately in a way that seems intuitive to the user while moving away from the checkbox model in favor of something more interesting/delightful?

So, for example, if my app were about the restaurant business:

Sign up for RestauMatic below and we'll let you know when we're ready to launch!

Email: [_______]

[ ] I am a restaurant manager!

[ ] I invest in restaurants!

[Submit]

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At the very least, loose the exclamation points in the checkbox labels... –  André Sep 6 '12 at 8:55
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Is there a benefit to the user in providing that extra information? Does their response change the experience they receive? Do you need to explain to the user why you're asking them to identify what sort of user they are? –  Matt Obee Sep 6 '12 at 11:25
    
What do you mean 'I invest in restaurants'? Like I go there to eat and 'invest' this way? Simple language and simple interaction is key. Checkboxes if both is ok, radio selection if only one option can be chosen. –  greenforest Sep 6 '12 at 12:51
    
I don't think I've ever seen any form that I felt was delightful. They're functional. Anything more than a checkbox will take longer to figure out how to use, determine what it is and will probably take longer to actually interact with. You don't want to add extra time into filling in a form, even small ones. Take stuff out of forms rather than improve the interactivity of them. –  JonW Sep 6 '12 at 12:59
    
Thanks for the comments all. I just wanted to clarify the restaurant stuff is just an example I cooked up as I was writing the post, so I understand it's rough around the edges. –  Jeff K Sep 8 '12 at 13:25
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2 Answers 2

Personally, I see nothing wrong with using checkboxes because people are familiar with them --> they don't need to spend time thinking about what your interface "means" --> you don't lose them before they've sign up.

However, if you'd like the interface to look more interesting, how about using "buttons" for each choice, like this?

Sign up for XXXXXXXX, and we'll let you know when we launch!

Email: [_____________]

I am a:

[✓ Restaurant manager]         [Investor]        [✓ Something else]

[Submit]

Edit: To anticipate other responses, I would refuse to sign up for a service that made me "drag and drop" these choices onto a list.

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I would add an information describing policy around spam and usage of submitted information. It influences a bounce rate. –  Bartosz Rakowski Sep 6 '12 at 13:00
    
Thanks James (and yes, no drag and drop!). Also, great suggestion Bartosz, I completely agree. I've actually designed into the UX that the user will be able to read a one-sentence "we do not share your email etc etc", linking to the full policy. –  Jeff K Sep 8 '12 at 13:24
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The answer to your question is: no. You’re not going to get an interaction that is simpler, easier, faster, more accurate, and more unambiguous than that of a check box. Any alternative to a check box would likely cause confusion. For example, users expect button-like controls to execute some action, and thus may hesitate to select an “I invest in restaurants” button because it may start something they don’t want (e.g., navigate to a long form, install a Restaurant Manager tool bar in the browser). Also, unlike a check box, a button does not appear inherently undoable, which can lead to anxiety and hesitation.

Frankly, you’re asking too much from a binary control. The average user is not interested or delighted by controls. They’re interested and delighted by what the controls do for them. If you’re concerned about the emotional engagement of your users, then re-think your content. Make it clearer how the service you’re offering is going to benefit the user –that’s what they find interesting and delightful. That matters more than a new kind of control (or exclamation points in the control’s caption, for that matter).

If you’ve done all you can to present an interesting and delightful service, the other thing you can do is make the graphic design consistent with service. For example, the form’s colors and imagery could borrow references to restaurants: you could frame the form with a red-and-white checked border to suggest a bistro’s tablecloth (or maybe it suggests Purina Cat Chow), or maybe instead of check marks appearing in the check boxes on selection, a ladle appears (or maybe not).

Use visual design to reinforce what the content honestly offers. Trying "hype up" a service beyond what it actually offers is just going to make you look like a fraud.

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I appreciate the well thought out response. The 'new action' thing is definitely a concern with styling the checkbox to be 'button-like' as James suggests. I am also always on the lookout for inadvertently 'over-hyping' the service through design that ends up just feeling tacky. –  Jeff K Sep 8 '12 at 13:38
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