We have an interface for creating a group. These groups can be set to private, which is represented in the database with a boolean. Private: true/false.

What are the best practices for representing these options within an interface?

  • A set of two radio buttons, public and private?
  • A set of two radio buttons with the question, "make this group private?" and the options being "Yes" and "No".
  • One checkbox with the label "Private". Checked for private, unchecked for public.
  • A select box with the options "Public" and "Private.

Or maybe something else I haven't thought of? Thanks in advance for your help!

2 Answers 2


All are valid, and all have their pros and cons:

  • Check boxes and toggle switches are the simplest option, but they're only good when the question can be clearly answered with a "yes" or "no". For example: "Are you a US Citizen?" (answer is clearly yes or no) vs "Do you drive your sports car often?" (answer could be daily/weekly/monthly/rarely/not applicable, etc)

  • Radio buttons can provide more information about each answer if a toggle isn't clear enough. For example, the boolean "I rent this car" vs "I own this car" are two options that are useful to see written out because it might not be obvious that renting is the opposite of owning (you could be leasing, borrowing from a friend, etc)

  • Select lists do the same thing as radio buttons, but because they require an extra click to use, save them for questions with a lot of possible answers. Ex: "What state do you live in?", not "Do you own your own business?"

In your case, use a checkbox/toggle if it's obvious to users what "private group" means--otherwise I'd go with radio buttons.

Hope that helps!


In addition to Sam's answer, which I agree with, a nice "visual" version of the radio button approach is the "button group" which work as a simple selector

Basically you use it in an equivalent way to a select list or radio button, but because you're clicking one of two (or several) clearly connected buttons, it's obvious which option you're choosing.

It can be a nice way to avoid ambiguity.

For example using either a single checkbox, or radio buttons:

Would you like a non-smoking room [Y/N]


Would you like a non-smoking room

  • Yes
  • No

This could be slightly ambiguous because we're introducing a double-negative - if you would not like a non-smoking room, you would like a smoking one. Most native speakers would be fine with this, but the fact that we're asking the question and providing answers can make it a little ambiguous. And of course, this is a fairly simple question - others can be worse.

By using a button group we can avoid the question entirely and incorporate the "full" answer in the response, we've neatly dodged the issue and it becomes very clear what we're asking for, and which is selected

Room type:

Two button selector

It works very nicely for a small, fixed-length group of selectable items (between perhaps 2 and 5 being ideal, beyond which it can sometimes become a little unwieldy depending on answer length)

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