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Related question: Why is it impossible to deselect HTML "radio" inputs?

Radio buttons are supposed to be impossible to deselect, because users aren't supposed to leave radio inputs blank. The most common way of allowing users to not select any choice is to add a "none of the above" choice or "prefer not to say."

Is it a good idea to make custom radio-buttons that are de-selectable, and allow users to leave radio inputs blank? E.g. a gender selection will not have a "prefer not to say choice," instead the user can simply leave it blank.

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In general, the answer to "should I use this standard UI control in a non-standard way" is going to be "nope".

Your users will have no expectation, and no reasonable way to discover, that your radio buttons are de-selectable, because, well, they usually aren't.

A user who wants to say "none of the above" will have no visible cue that that's an available option (because you're not displaying it as an option), and would have no way of knowing that you plan to interpret "no response" as meaning "none of the above".

As a further problem, you'll have no way to distinguish between "I didn't select a response because I skipped the question", and "I didn't select a response because I somehow figured out that was supposed to mean 'none of the above'".

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In my opinion, that breaks the purpose and the mechanics of a radio button. In purpose, a radio button says "you are required to make a choice here, even if that choice is explicitly stating that you choose not to choose". Mechanically, radio buttons have been around a long time and user have an expectation of how they work. I would not subvert that expected behavior without a very good reason. That's my two cents worth.

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    +1 It does break the purpose and mechanics of a radio button, that's more than just an opinion ;-) – jazZRo Sep 3 '16 at 11:39

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