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I work on a form, in which there are questions allowing either multiple choices or selecting just one. An example:

Which of the sweeties do you like:

  • [ ] chocolate
  • [ ] lollipops
  • [ ] cookies
  • ( ) none

In the above, [ ] represent checkboxes and ( ) represents radiobuttons. User can select multiple sweeties, but upon selecting "none" all the checkbox fields should be cleared, and vice versa: when "none" is selected, selecting any of the checkboxes should clear the radio in "none".

From UX perspective, is it ok to follow this way?

Edit:

Just to clarify: "None" does not mean "none of the above". Instead, it means that user does not like sweeties at all. In other words: the options included as checkboxes are just a subset of all possible sweeties. User can choose one/multiple of the sweeties or select "none". One conclusion is that the form does not cover a situation when user likes other sweeties than the ones listed as options, so definitely the form should also include "Other, please specify:" field as well.

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8  
why not just make the "none" option a checkbox and follow the same behaviour (clear all the other checkboxes when none is selected)? –  SavTheCoder Apr 22 '13 at 12:24
3  
It is not typical for checkboxes to clear the other fields, that's why. But it is a concept anyway. –  Dominik Oslizlo Apr 22 '13 at 12:36
5  
@DominikOslizlo it's certainly not unheard of. For instance, there's often a 'all' option in checkbox lists, with the 'all' also being a checkbox that toggles the selection of the rest. –  DA01 Apr 22 '13 at 15:50
2  
Why do you even need the none option? It just adds complexity and is exactly the same as not having any checkboxes selected. –  Peter Olson Apr 22 '13 at 19:38
2  
This is not a Valid Question to begin with. You don't put check-boxes and ratio buttons in the answer. You could use two separate questions for each and if answer was "yes" for first answer, you ask the other depending upon that. Have a look at some properties of Question which make it valid or invalid. wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_a_valid_question –  Salman Apr 23 '13 at 0:05
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4 Answers

up vote 42 down vote accepted

There should never be just one radio button, as it breaks the user's expectations on how they work. Radio buttons are meant to allow selection of one and only one item from a set of several radio buttons.

If you really want to use radio buttons, you could either go with this approach:

() I like the following sweeties:
  [] chocolate
  [] lollipops
  [] cookies
() I don't like sweeties.

Or you can change the "none" radio button to a "clear selections" button.

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This is something I considered as well. From programming point of view it would be - probably - dealt with this way, just the first radio could be hidden so that there would be a list of checkboxes and one radio below. –  Dominik Oslizlo Apr 22 '13 at 12:38
4  
+1 for "can't have one radio button". –  DA01 Apr 22 '13 at 15:50
    
Ok, seems that this is the optimal solution. Thanks for your help, mates! –  Dominik Oslizlo Apr 22 '13 at 16:40
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The current option of check boxes and radio button in that layout is not a good choice. It looks confusing. There are a few ways you can handle this:

  • Split it into two questions: 1. Do you like sweeties? and if yes, then 2. What kind of sweeties do you like? If no, then move on to the next question.

  • Turn it into a dynamic/interactive question.

Do you like sweeties?

( ) Yes

( ) No

When the user clicks on Yes, you can have an accordion reveal or just pop down the subsequent options.

...

Do you like sweeties?

( ) Yes

...[ ] chocolate

...[ ] lollipops

...[ ] cookies

( ) No

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Yes, both ideas are good, actually the second one is what I considered as an alternative. I didn't want to include too much dynamics in showing/hiding sections due to other reasons, anyway (a constraint which is bit complicated to explain...). –  Dominik Oslizlo Apr 22 '13 at 16:33
1  
@Dominik: Would disabling the checkboxes when the "no" radio button is selected (and automatically selecting "yes" if the user checks any box) be an acceptable alternative? That seems to be a fairly common user interface pattern, from what I've seen (which of course doesn't necessarily make it good, or suitable for your use case). –  Ilmari Karonen Apr 22 '13 at 20:22
    
Yes, it's one of the ways to go. It would not make the form 'float' upon selecting yes/no, just make some options unavailable. –  Dominik Oslizlo Apr 22 '13 at 20:53
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Ask yourself if the none option is really needed. Without it a user simply checks the sweeties he/she likes, or check none. To clear he/she unchecks them.

The wording could be Please check the sweeties you like.

A good thing of this solution is that it works also when javascript is disabled.

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1  
It's +1, as this answer would be perfect if only this was a little bit different form. In my case, the meaning of 'none' is, however, a bit deeper than 'none of the above'. It holds additional value, so the meaning is 'I don't eat any, neither the above not any other' so I believe the meaning would be a bit distorted by using this method. However, the rewording idea is good in this case. –  Dominik Oslizlo Apr 22 '13 at 16:38
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Trying some lateral thinking here, you say that "none" in your case really means "none of the above, and no others either". If so, couldn't you just invert the logic, getting rid of the "none" option and replacing with a checkbox labelled "other" (or even "other, please specify:", with a text field for free-form entry), like this:

Which sweeties do you like?
    [ ] chocolate
    [ ] lollipops
    [ ] cookies
    [ ] other: ____________________
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"Other" is a good option to include, however "none" means something else in this case. –  Dominik Oslizlo Apr 22 '13 at 20:49
2  
@Dominik: What I meant is that, instead of having a "none of the above, and no others" option, you could instead have a "something else" option, so that leaving all the checkboxes including that one unchecked would literally mean "none of the listed options, and nothing else either". –  Ilmari Karonen Apr 22 '13 at 21:21
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