Currently in the application that I am designing, we are displaying just a short amount of contact information, which means that if the contact has 4 different numbers (i.e. mobile,home,work,fax), then we don't have enough space to display all of the numbers. Instead we have a show more button that gives more information about the contact.

Right now the problem I am having is the best way for the user to mark a contact as primary or if they even need to mark them as primary. Does anyone know of the most usable way of solving this sort of problem. Here are a few different ideas I came up with and I am not sure they would work properly.


  • 4
    You shouldn't use a checkbox here when there can be only one primary. It should be a radio button, or a selector where you directly choose only one.
    – JohnGB
    Apr 4, 2013 at 16:04
  • In the second design, you can simplify a little by writing "primary" only once, above the column of checkboxes (or radiobuttons as @JohnGB suggested) as a kind of column header.
    – Peter
    Apr 5, 2013 at 9:48

1 Answer 1


Avoid repetition as much as you can. What about the following option:

  • plenty of space
  • easy to make any field mandatory
  • better consistency of users' input actions
  • more consistent UI controls across platforms

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  • This is a great idea I didn't even think about doing it like that. My only concern is what happens when the user decides to enter more than one mobile number. Apr 4, 2013 at 18:01
  • This is a UI pattern, just add as many contact fields as you want and populate the dropdown accordingly.
    – SuperFluxx
    Apr 4, 2013 at 18:12
  • You can dynamically add each (distinct) number entered in the upper fields to the select list. The user can then choose the right number, no matter, how many mobile number (s)he has.
    – nibra
    Apr 5, 2013 at 3:51
  • 1
    I would prefer the radio-button version suggested in the comments above. The dropdown here requires some mental effort on the part of the user to map the dropdown values back to the values above. Especially if the dropdown just contains phone numbers, it would take a lot of high-level attention to select the right one. The radio-buttons are next to the item they refer to, so the mapping is visual: no need to match two sequences of numbers.
    – Peter
    Apr 5, 2013 at 9:46

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