Consider these HTML checkboxes:

enter image description here

A member of our design team has proposed that we change the functionality of our checkboxes from yes-no questions to descriptive phrases. For example, as you see in the image, instead of having a label that asks whether the person is teacher or not, if he's a teacher and checkbox is checked, then the label would show is teacher, otherwise, it shows is not a teacher.

The idea is new and innovative. However, I can't analyze it from the point of user experience. What negative effects it might have?

  • 4
    Surely this causes a logic error? To me, both of those checkboxes mean the same thing. The first one reads "Is a teacher? Yes." and the bottom one reads "Is not a teacher? No." (seemingly implying that they are, indeed a teacher). Double negatives are confusing!
    – Kit Grose
    Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 7:19
  • 3
    If you are going to go this direction, consider using a toggle button, or some other control that doesn't suffer the same issue.
    – Kit Grose
    Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 7:21

2 Answers 2


Changing labels is clearly confusing because as a User I might not remember if i checked or unchecked something or it was just checked by default. Also I don't see controls or toggle buttons as a good fit to solve the problem.

Definitely not the way to go.

Changing the labels is a creative solution if used properly inside a context that allows such flexibility.

Here's an example of what I mean with such a context.

In the scenario above the label becomes actually the choice you are taking and doesn't leave any place for human error.

What do you think? Will suck an approach fit your context and solve your problem?


I would recommend you to put your descriptive phrase on a new line, as it changes the logic of your textbox (the user gets confused, as the label suddenly changes).


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

  • 1
    While i like this idea, I would recommend highlighting the text change so that user attention is drawn to it.
    – Mervin
    Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 9:35

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