The Problem With Radio Buttons
I made a mistake.
I clicked the X in the lower right corner of the screenshot above. Just as I was about to click it I thought, “That&srquo;s an odd place for a Delete button…”
Only, of course, it wasn’t a Delete button. It’s the button you click when you want to tell the good people at Google Voice that their transcription wasn’t helpful.
I know why I clicked it. I was looking for a way to delete a voice mail and that was the first thing I saw that matched my mental model, so to speak. Back to my mistake. It wasn’t really a user error. Well, maybe it was if I could easily recover from it, but I can’t.
There’s no way to deselect a radio button. That’s just not how they function. I know. You know this already. So do most smart people like you and me. And yet…
Radio buttons are very handy, but I don’t think they are useful for a binary choice. At least, not Yes/No.
Yes. Makes sense. I’m a great designer. You are, too. This isn’t an earth-shattering design change. But it does allow for a user to recover from a mistake. You can deselect a checkbox.
So consider this a friendly reminder: Radio buttons are for choosing between mutually exclusive… um, choices. But for the most part, they are better suited when the user has to choose between 3 or more things.