Use Radio Buttons and Check Boxes to Optimize Online Forms

Creating effective online forms is both an art and a science.

Man using a computer

Effective online forms must look good, and they must perform tasks flawlessly.

Form creators must gather the information they need, while avoiding overloading form users. They must make forms brief, engaging, nice looking, and easy to use if they want to get people to complete them. 

One of the main reasons people abandon forms is that they’re too long or that they require more text input than is reasonable for a mobile device. And since more people fill out forms on mobile devices, it’s essential that online forms minimize typed input while looking good on the smaller screens of mobile devices. 

Two ways that creators of online forms can maximize form engagement is by strategic use of radio buttons and check boxes. Here’s what they are and when they’re the right choice.

Radio Buttons: What They Are and When to Use Them

Radio buttons are selection indicators in a list of options in an online form. Before completion, they look like empty circles. When the form user selects an option, the circle is filled with a dot, and the other options are de-selected. This means that users may only choose one selection from the list. 

Radio buttons make sense when you need form users to choose one and only one option from a list. They’re simple, fast, and effective, whether the user is in a desktop environment or is using a tablet or phone. 

Check Boxes: When They’re the Most Appropriate Choice

Check boxes are empty squares that can be toggled to be checked or unchecked. The difference between check boxes and radio buttons is that check boxes allow users to select more than one option if they want. In other words, checking one box doesn’t de-select other boxes. 

Check boxes make sense when form users can provide more than one response. For example, in a survey form, you may ask users what their top three reasons for visiting your website are. Check boxes allow them to check three boxes, whereas radio buttons would limit them to only one. 

Man using a phone

With radio buttons and check boxes, filling out forms on mobile devices is easier. 

Drop-Down Menus Are Good, but Radio Buttons and Check Boxes Are Better

Many online form creators use drop-down menus to help people make selections in online forms without typing. Users simply click or tap an arrow to be presented with a list of choices. And if the selection list is lengthy, then drop-down menus make sense. But in cases where the list of choices is relatively brief – say less than seven or eight choices – then radio buttons and check boxes get the same results and are easier for users to engage with. 

People Like to Avoid Typing, Especially on Mobile

Strategically using radio buttons and check boxes in your online forms is great for mobile device users. Without a real keyboard, even the most accomplished mobile keyboard “swipers” can rapidly grow tired of entering text data – even with predictive text. Radio buttons and check boxes allow people to answer questions quickly and see clearly what choices they have made. They can be helpful for ensuring that form users actually complete forms and don’t abandon them in frustration. 

PerfectForms allows form creators to include radio buttons, check boxes, and drop-down menus in the forms they design. These options help form creators collect and analyze the data they need while being confident that erroneous entries are kept to a minimum. 

With PerfectForms’ drag-and-drop user interface, form creators can make forms look and perform exactly as they need them to for users in desktop environments or on mobile devices. And no programming is required. If you’re interested in form software that puts you in control and offers the power and flexibility you need, we invite you to watch our demo video. And if have questions, feel free to contact us at any time.  

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