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I have an onboarding checklist, where the user has to complete a number of tasks. The most natural visual seems to be to use a list with an empty check box for uncompleted tasks, with checks added for completed tasks.

The problem is that this implies the user can click the check marks themselves to indicate completion. But in fact they cannot. They have to take other actions separate from the check list itself, after which the check list items will be marked completed for them.

In other words, the check list -- and specifically the checkboxes -- are useful as a passive status indicator of what needs to be done and what has already been done, but are not themselves interactive.

On thought would be for a tooltip or popup to show up if someone clicks the checkbox, explaining what they should do. Or actually make clicking an uncompleted checkbox lead to the multistep workflow that will eventually lead to it being marked complete -- which intuitively makes sense but isn't the expected response of just added a check mark in the box, and will be perhaps jarring with clicking on an empty check box leading to a modal action as if it were a button.

Any suggestions on how to handle this?

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You could use a stepper to indicate progress. enter image description here

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You could display a check mark as an icon. That would indicate less interactivity. enter image description here

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