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I have a medical reporting application, and three possible options for a query. I need the user to select one of three options, and I am trying to figure out if a radio button group is best or some other.

I need to know if the query is for patients who are

A) Equal to or over Retirement Age

or

B) Under Retirement Age

or

C) All Ages (i.e. both option A and option B together)

What's the best UI choice- A radio button group, or check boxes, or a combination?

  • What would a "combination" of radio buttons and check boxes behave like in this situation? – elemjay19 Jan 7 '15 at 19:26
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Between those options I would suggest radio buttons, since you only want to allow for a single selection.

O - At or Over Retirement Age

O - Under Retirement Age

O - Both

If you use check boxes, people may wind up checking the top 2 instead of/in addition to "both".

  • 1
    Checkboxes would mean the "both" option isn't needed, but I agree that this option is the clearest. "Both" is also much better wording than "All Ages" though I might suggest "Retirement Age and Over" as the wording for the first option. – Justin Jan 7 '15 at 19:29
  • @Justin I'd argue that 'Both' is much worse than 'all ages' - the label 'both' requires people to look at the two other options and union them in the head. 'All ages' is as explicit you can get as for what this option mean. – Izhaki Jan 7 '15 at 21:44
  • @Izhaki I'd counter-argue that they should be reading all the options and making that connection. "All ages" sounds simple enough right now, but if you imagine the thought process to answering "What age are your patients?" Let's say you have a 50-year-old (under) and a 70-year-old, reading "all ages" by itself won't give you meaning until it's clarified what the reference point is. In fact, the question should be something like "Are your patients under or over retirement age?" to which "Both" is even more valid. – Justin Jan 8 '15 at 23:11
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From a user perspective, if I'm after a red shirt, I'd prefer seeing an option saying 'red shirt', rather than an option saying 'red' and another saying 'shirt'.

With checkboxes:

  • Users have to actually read the two options and ensure the two combine into the whole (all age groups - which is really what they have articulated in mind). This is an exercise in logic.
  • Users have to make one choice anyway, but if it's all ages they want - they have an extra operation to perform (they have to click on both choices).

With a combination of both, you get into the realm of complex logic.

So, the ideal would simply be to have 3 radio buttons:

O Below 65

O 65 and above

O All ages

A few notes:

  • I've used the actual retirement age as 'Retirement age' requires users to know what it is. This is likely to differ between man and women, but the point is to make an explicit mentioning of what the retirement age is.
  • I've tried to put the age left most - being more important.
  • Below comes before above (ordinals).
  • I wouldn't use 'both' - it requires reading both options. So the all ages is explicit - 'All ages'.
  • 1
    I understand using the numeric value if it is a single one that won't change across the application, but I am not currently certain if that is the case. – Jennifer S Jan 7 '15 at 22:00

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