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Let's say users are filling out a form; they can either manually select values, or use a checkbox to apply a set of default values. (We'll call it Option A for the purposes of this question.)

What should happen in the following scenario:

  1. The user manually selected some options for some of the Qs, then decided to check the checkbox to apply Option A to all. Should the value for all Qs change to Option A, or only the ones that don't have a value yet?
  2. What if later, the user unchecks the box; should everything go back to having no selection, or should the form return to the values that user previously manually selected?

Quick mock up for visual:

Form with Apply Option A to All checkbox

5 Answers 5

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Don't make this is overly complicated for the user. A checkbox defines a state not an action and it is guess work for the user what will happen when it is checked or unchecked. So this should be an action that changes the state of all choices to default and has a clear label. Use a button instead:

enter image description here

Since this is a reset button that undoes all the hard work a user has done, it should not be part of the flow of the form. For that reason I placed it on the right in the example.

If you see that users like to experiment with the values and want to offer a switch between the default and a custom setup, you can use a radio or likewise control:

enter image description here

In the example the dropdown's for the custom setup are disabled so it is clear that it has no effect changing them since the default option is selected.

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My name is Juan and I am UX Designer at Pencil & Paper. Every week our team of designers chooses a new UX problem to solve live during our "Dev problem of the week" series. This week we voted to try to solve your question.

We thought we would share the video with you and hopefully you can find our antics useful in anyway. We had to make some assumptions and we tried different solutions. At the very least we hope you find our video interesting.

We would love to have you in our future sessions to help you solve a UX problem.

Youtube Link

enter image description here

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  • Hello Juan, it's very nice to see this kind of interaction here. Hovewer, even redirecting to more comprehensive source is a great way to contribute, noting down a couple of headlines and items which leads to conclusion of your video streaming is preferred, as well as mentioned within Help Center. Editing your answer as it's told within the paragraph under Provide context for links will be rewarding more... Mar 23 at 1:32
  • Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Mar 23 at 1:33
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    @ErhanYaşar you are totally right I will add some more context today
    – jramirez
    Mar 23 at 15:12
  • Hi, Juan, wow, thank you for sharing! You guys seem to be a group of fun people to work with. Definitely interested to know more about P&P Unfortuantely I can't share the actual use case because it is for an enterprise product, but the access permission scenario is very close. In most cases there are 5 select boxes at least, users have the ability to add more if they are adding more people. Option A= follow the permission of user X. If in the future X's permission has been changed, then all users that has A selected will have their permission be automatically updated
    – Hong Yu
    Mar 24 at 1:03
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If you would like to use a checkbox to ”Apply the default value to all”,
I would expect it to work like this (1) and (2):

  1. If the checkbox is selected then:
    All Q’s are changed to their default option.

  2. If I then later uncheck the checkbox:
    It would be great if all Q’s changed back to the value they all had before being checked (like an undo).

But as a bonus I would also uncheck the checkbox programmatically if the user then changed any of the default values, since all the values are no longer default - hence an ”undo” like in (2) would no longer be possible.

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Interesting topic to think.

I would say, don't provide an uncheck option to "Apply option A to all". If the user wants to change other Qs, they can just change them directly. Uncheck would cause confusions. Instead, "Apply all" option could be offered after each Qs, when the user is editing the Qs, they can "apply all" at any time.

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I would think that if there are defaults, the system should have those defaults pre-selected. Maybe let the user know that the defaults are the "Recommended" options. The user can then change any values individually as they see fit. A button to "reset to default" (in case the user changes their mind) would be useful as well.

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