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I am designing an application, where the user has to select one option from the radio button. The specification document states that one default value should be selected. I don't agree with this, as it means we are making a decision on user's behalf.What if the user ignores the question and since a default value is selected there will be no error.


Please let me know your opinion or experience.

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Hi Trupti,


It depends on the context you are using the radio button. Like others who have replied that if the button is going to be selected by 80% of users all the time then its better to keep it selected as default. However having agreed to this context it also imperative that the decision is not forced onto to the user in a situation wherein the radio button is for subscribing to newsletter etc. In such a scenario there is possibility of considering it as spam and you tend to loose users more than what you might have expected. Its the context which I presume will matter more. If i put myself into the users shoes i wouldnt want to subscribe to a newsletter by default unless i am really interested in it.

Just a short answer but i hope you have got my point.







The majority of UI standards and guidelines suggests that a group of radiobuttons must have a default selection and this preselection must be “good”, ie users in general will not change the default selection. The only exception may be “Gender” radiobutton, because of “political correctness”. Anyway, even in this case, in my designs I usually preselect “Male” option. ;θ)

Hello All,


Thank you for sharing your experiences and views.

Finally it was decided to have a default button preselected for all the radio buttons to be consistent.

We have yet to check from SME's which option they think is mostly selected.






The term radio(has relative meaning to it) button itself is wrong; According to the MSTP it should be called as option button or round button. The term "radio" allows an user to perceive something else other than the actually intended meaning of the option or round button.

As far as your question; i am not able to understand the query clearly.




By wiki: A radio button is a type of GUI element to choose only one of a predefined options. They were named after the physical buttons used on older Car radios to select preset stations - when one of the buttons was pressed, other buttons would pop out, leaving the pressed button the only button in the "pushed in" position.


As above description says, radio button is optional button where user must need to select one option from the provided set.

Hi Sachin,

I totally agree with the description given by wiki; my question is why it is called radio button, what the term "radio mean here. So to avoid confusion MSTP says call it option or round button.

As a user when i view the GUI I will see only a round figure there; what relationship the term radio has with the round figure.


I hope this clarifies the point clearlly.


One important thing to consider is whether it is an opinion item. If it is, definitely no default value should be selected. For other scenarios, see comments from Ashley Rovenski and Cam Beck.

There are two sides to this, I think.  I understand what you are saying and I do agree, especially when it's an option/action that you want the user to think about before choosing and when it's mandatory.  I think the decision if a radio button should be selected by default, should be on a case by case basis. Because on the other side there are times when defaulting a radio button is better and is making the lives of the users easier.

It depends on the client's design goals.


In one of the applications I recently designed, check boxes and/or radio buttons were left blank when they were related to a required field.  This insured that user had to make a decision for that step or question.


In other areas, the client's requirement was for the user to go as fast as possible through the application. In those cases, the default was placed in accordance with the most frequent response.


One point to keep in mind when using radio buttons. If they are initially blank, then an additional radio button (with a label like 'No Selection or 'None') should be added.   All too often, you see just the choices listed, but there is no way for the user to back out of a selection they have made, ie: 'not provide an answer'  when one is not required.


I hope this helps.


Regards, David



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