I am working on a team messaging tool. Users have been asking to send to just part of the team. (ie. If a team had 40 members and I wanted to just send something to 18 of them)

The proposed solution would be a slide out where the members would be listed out.

My question is: Do you think it makes sense to have all team members selected in the initial state (option 1) or have everyone deselected by default (option 2)?

Preselected boxes left, Unselected boxes right

My original thought was that you are starting out with the "complete" list so everyone should be selected by default.

  • will the sender see the recipients before they send the message? That could work as a stopgap before sending. The concern is choosing in one screen, and mistakenly sending a message meant for only certain folks.
    – Mike M
    Jul 11 '17 at 5:11
  • 1
    If sending messagees just to 18 / 40 team memebrs occurs as a behavioral pattern (frequent usecase) than you may consider option of creating Group from particular Team members - so users can easy navigate and send messages to these subgroups. Jul 11 '17 at 7:07
  • @MikeM The experience is all contained in one screen and the first step is to select your recipients, so accidentally sending to the wrong people shouldn't be a large concern. (i have highly simplified the ui to focus on my question)
    – Rohrski
    Jul 11 '17 at 14:05
  • @PhilMobile Thanks Phil. We do plan on giving the user an option to save the set for future use. I was mainly wondering about thoughts regarding the initial state of the list.
    – Rohrski
    Jul 11 '17 at 14:09

It depends from the following two factors :

  • The most frequent scenario. Do users usually sent to all or almost all team members, if yes the default should be selected, otherwise use unselected. You should try to minimize the clicks.

  • Cost of error. If sending a message to a member by mistake has very high cost then use unselected. Likewise, if not sending a message to a member has very high cost then use selected. People tend to stick to the defaults.

  • 1
    Good answer, though regarding your last sentence: the OPs solution already has a 'Select All' and 'Deselect All' button. Perhaps the OP needs to make this more prominent? It's also worth noting that because messages are sent to all users by default, users may expect all recipients to be selected when they open the foldout. But user testing and interviews will reveal all :)
    – user101673
    Jul 11 '17 at 7:05
  • @JoelTebbett yes you are right, I have not noticed it. I will remove the last sentence. Jul 11 '17 at 7:15
  • 1
    Thanks @DesignerAnalyst. • Since the feature doesn't currently exist I don't know if the trend would be "most" or "a few" of the team (I've heard use cases for both). It sounds like we'll just need to get it out there for testing and watch the behavior...just didn't know if there was a best practice loosely based around my question. • Since the user has already selected the entire group to begin with and then purposefully edits down that group I don't see a large cost of error involved. I think it just goes back to your original comment of whether or not the trend is most or a few.
    – Rohrski
    Jul 11 '17 at 14:23

I think DesignerAnalyst supplied great reasons for each choice you'll eventually choose. But I would like to add some Cognitive Psychology aspects.

The Prospect Theory yielded a s**t-load of effects/biases/heuristics, 2 of them are relevant here: the Status Quo Bias and its brother the Default Bias (aka the Habitual Behavior). Both of them are relying on the "ease" of mental/cognitive load when making choices. Mark Zuckerberg uses it, as he claimed to have only 1 type of jeans, and 1 type of shirts that "takes off his morning considerations when standing in front of his closet".

Another great example comes from organ donors; It's easy to (mistakely) assume that countries with more organ donors have tons of "great people" living in, and everybody is super nice and happy and just want to donate organs to help everyone else. Well, the hard truth is that these people in those countries (with high organ donors percentages) have no special traits that makes their citizens more "humans" then countries with fewer organ donors. It's simply a matter of the country's default choice about donating organs or not... Countries with higher numbers of organ donors are the ones that upon asking their citizens if they wish to donate organs or not already chose "yes" (checked the checkbox or whatever) for this person. In face, in order to NOT donate organs this person had to un-check the checkbox (or state "NO") and as the Default / Status Quo biases predicted - people rather do nothing than just do it. And yes, it was a reference to Nike :)

So just to quickly answer your question - it depends on the common need (sending messages to many/few people), or the business need (you want everyone to send the messages to as many people as they can, or the opposite).

Good luck

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.