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I'm working on adding a small piece of functionality to a part of an app that contains 4 settings check boxes. I'd like to make some small tweaks to improve the UX of these checkboxes. There isn't scope for major changes but some copy changes are doable. There isn't time to test these changes.

The app is similar to a website builder and these settings are applied in a CMS to an individual page within a site.

1. The settings currently read like this:

  • Hide page from navigation

  • Show a sidebar nav for parts of this page

  • Show a sidebar nav for sibling pages

  • Include page in search results (checked by default)

Each of these settings has a checkbox. By default the final one that says include is checked. The rest are unchecked by default.

2. I considered changing it to be:

  • Show page in navigation (checked by default)

  • Show a sidebar nav for parts of this page

  • Show a sidebar nav for sibling pages

  • Include page in search results (checked by default)

I thought this would be an improvement because the actions are all positive and checking a box means something is appearing/you're turning on something.

Because "show x in x" will always be checked by default, I'm unsure if changing the first setting from "hide" to "show" means users will now have to make a bit of a mental leap to realise they have to uncheck the first box when they want to "hide x from x".

3. another potential solution

  • Hide page from navigation

  • Show a sidebar nav for parts of this page

  • Show a sidebar nav for sibling pages

  • Exclude page from search results

Is this a better solution because all options are unchecked by default and users are forced to check a box for all of the settings they want to turn on, rather than have to uncheck some but not others.

Or is it better to just leave it at option 1...

Appreciate any help/feedback

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  • Hi Holden, can you provide more context on what X, X from X and X in X represent? If you can't directly mention what X stands for because of business constraints, try providing some analogous examples to explain the context better. Currently, for example, given that the checkboxes representing option 2 and 3 are the same, it's difficult to discern what they represent or to draw any parallels.
    – ikartik90
    Sep 23, 2021 at 12:17
  • 2
    @ikartik90 I have updated with some more representative content. I hope that helps. Sep 23, 2021 at 13:06

2 Answers 2

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Instead of thinking of actions as affirmative or negative, the ideal course of action for the series of checkboxes would be to identify what the expected natural state of the newly drafted pages on your CMS.

To draw parallels, unless you specify

<meta name="robots" content="noindex,nofollow">

on a given webpage, it is assumed that it is permissible to index the webpage on public search engines. Hence, the expected natural state for generic webpages with respect to search is index,follow.

Similarly in the context of your CMS, generally speaking, if the expected natural state of the newly drafted pages is:

  • Show page in navigation
  • Show sidebar on page
  • Show sidebar on sibling pages
  • Include page in search results

then you should showcase those as the respective labels for your checkboxes, with all of them checked by default.

The intent of keeping the checkboxes in the above mentioned fashion is to ensure that they exhibit the natural behaviour expected by the user while requiring the least number of actions/inputs from the user.


Ps: As an aside, while I'm not completely aware of your CMS's functionality, I would preferably eliminate the show sidebar on sibling pages option from the list of checkboxes, as it would trigger a race condition between the respective checkboxes of the sibling pages, i.e., I would be able to turn it on from one page and turn it off from another. A better approach would be to incorporate such functionality at a parent page level.

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Both 2 and 3 variants are fine for me. They are obvious enough.

Of course, first feature looks like a substantial CMS feature (do not show this page), while the last one looks more like a marketing feature (we will put you into Google search results).

And also these two features are connected: when you hide the page you will definitely want to remove it from search results (and it probably works by default).

I would put these two checkbox close to each other and sidebar checkboxes after them, as they are less obvious. And yeah, "Show sidebar on page" would be clearer.

More radical change is to remove Search results checkbox completely. All visible pages will be open to search crawlers, all hidden (or password protected) will be excluded.

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