I'm doing a slight redesign of some forms and I'm trying to get good consistency amongst fields.

I've placed the label above the field for most of the forms, as some of the labels are quite lengthy, and this seems best for readability. This layout works well - but breaks down for a simple label-checkbox scenario. I've added a screenshot to show.

What's the best way I should lay out that first field of just a label+checkbox? It seems to look best as I've got it, but its very inconsistent having the label on the right, and all on the same row. But it looks illogical having a one-word label on one line and a single checkbox below it.

enter image description here

Also, side-question: you can see in the 3rd field, 'no' is first. I didn't design this form. I feel like 'yes' should always be first, even if 'no' is the default. Am I right in this?

I don't have any sources on hand to back up my decision but I have studied UX and browse this forum quite a bit so I think my decisions are based in reason. Feel free to correct me.

  • That's pretty much the de-facto standard. Stick with it.
    – DA01
    Commented Nov 15, 2013 at 5:28

1 Answer 1


This layout is consistent; it's the lack of a question to prompt a checkbox response that is throwing you. Otherwise, it would be formatted the same as the radio field. And, consequently, If you changed the checkbox/label-only pattern, it would throw off the radio pattern.

enter image description here

I think your side question is the bigger of the two and it really depends on the context of what's being asked.

In general, default yes on a radio button that is neutral/beneficial is common practice. Even without the connotation, good ole Mr. Nielsen suggests always providing one by default, and even offering an explicit neutral option ("None") as opposed to leaving the radio field blank.

I'm skeptical of the neutral option in some cases because it doesn't account for user errors. If you have a blank radio it should throw an error and force a decision.

If you only have a yes/no answer, there's a good chance a single checkbox can do the job (e.g. check for providing something beneficial by default).

However, this needs to be done with some sense to avoid Dark Patterns. Obviously, an option checkbox isn't going to throw an error either, so users may overlook it -- users skim, they don't read (too many sources). Whether checked or unchecked, it depends on the action associated. If it's an opt-out of newsletter situation, checking by default is forcing it ("but if they're using my site they'll want more information from me!"--let them decide). In addition, active wording should be used to describe the opt-ing action (e.g. Heck yeah! Send me that annoying newsletter every day!)

  • Yeah thanks. For the first part, I tried adding the question prompt, but I found I was repeating myself a lot. I wasn't sure how to phrase them, especially for simple questions. eg. Activate plugin? [x] activate, Display this field? [x] display vs. [x] Activate plugin, [x] Display this field The latter seemed to be much clearer, so I went with that, despite it not looking consistent. Is there a better way?
    – morgoe
    Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 22:24
  • If it's a mutually exclusive state (active vs disabled), a radio might be more appropriate. "Some Plugin" (o) Active ( ) Disabled. The ( ) Disabled also provides more feedback than an unchecked [ ] Active. More context will help with the wording.
    – glilley
    Commented Nov 19, 2013 at 21:03
  • I agree that you give the question more context, As prompt you can use "Plugin state" and than a checkbox [x] Active. Or use as prompt "Activate plugin?" and use radio's (o) Yes () No. Something like that.
    – jazZRo
    Commented Nov 21, 2013 at 12:51

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