Poll: A yes/no question in a web form, which control(s) would you use?

We’re creating a web application that asks a number of questions about pumps (as it happens). Some of these questions are typical yes/no questions. But we need to make sure the user makes a positive choice. We don’t want to impose a choice on them. Which controls would you use?

Here’s the question with the three options we’ve currently got:

Do you need a sealless pump?
Do you need a sealless pump?
Do you need a sealless pump?

Jakob Nielsen at useit.com in his article Checkboxes vs Radio Buttons tells us that radio buttons are used “when there is a list of two or more options that are mutually exclusive and the user must select exactly one choice” and a single checkbox is used “for a single option that the user can turn on or off”. But this case is a little special since we don’t want the user to forget to select something. The nice thing about using the radio buttons or the drop-down is that you have a way of detecting if the user has actually chosen anything yet. On the whole though, the drop-down list is probably the least user-friendly though perhaps the easiest to generate programmatically.


(This poll is a great WordPress plugin developed by Lester Chan)

7 thoughts on “Poll: A yes/no question in a web form, which control(s) would you use?”

  1. I voted for radio buttons, but would put it more like:

    What type of pump do you need? o Sealless o Sealed

    … if that works in your application.

  2. I’m with Alex – using specific values rather than yes or no is clearer in most cases. There’s also a space vs interaction time issue: if there are many questions it might be better to use the drop down to get more visible at once. Finally, the drop down is probably easier to review before submitting; whether that’s important depends on the surrounding task.
    (But I voted for radio buttons anyway).

  3. I would prefer a radio button for yes/no scenario, reason it is easily visible to users and they are able to make quick choices given how careless people are and lazy too when it comes to filling forms.

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