Tag Archives: boxes

User Interface Elements

  • Dropdown list vs. listbox
  • Buttons vs. radio buttons

Sometimes you just forget what each UI term really is called. And it’s good to have the terminology correct, especially when you are talking with stakeholders.

Usability.gov is a great resource when you want to quickly remember the names of those pesky UI elements.

User Interface Elements

When designing your interface, try to be consistent and predictable in your choice of interface elements. Whether they are aware of it or not, users have become familiar with elements acting in a certain way, so choosing to adopt those elements when appropriate will help with task completion, efficiency, and satisfaction.

Interface elements include but are not limited to:

  • Input Controls: checkboxes, radio buttons, dropdown lists, list boxes, buttons, toggles, text fields, date field
  • Navigational Components: breadcrumb, slider, search field, pagination, slider, tags, icons
  • Informational Components: tooltips, icons, progress bar, notifications, message boxes, modal windows
  • Containers: accordion

Input Controls

Description Examples

Checkboxes allow the user to select one or more options from a set.  It is usually best to present checkboxes in a vertical list. More than one column is acceptable as well if the list is long enough that it might require scrolling or if comparison of terms might be necessary.

Example of checkboxes
Radio buttons

Radio buttons are used to allow users to select one item at a time.

Example of radio buttons
Dropdown lists

Dropdown lists allow users to select one item at a time, similarly to radio buttons, but are more compact allowing you to save space. Consider adding text to the field, such as ‘Select one’ to help the user recognize the necessary action.

Example of a dropdown
List boxes

List boxes, like checkboxes, allow users to select a multiple items at a time,but are more compact and can support a longer list of options if needed.

Example of a list box

A button indicates an action upon touch and is typically labeled using text, an icon, or both.

Example of buttons
Dropdown Button

The dropdown button consists of a button that when clicked displays a drop-down list of mutually exclusive items.

Example of dropdown button

A toggle button allows the user to change a setting between two states. They are most effective when the on/off states are visually distinct.

Example of toggles
Text fields

Text fields allow users to enter text.  It can allow either a single line or multiple lines of text.

Example of text field
Date and time pickers

A date picker allows users to select a date and/or time.  By using the picker, the information is consistently formatted and input into the system.

Examples of date and time pickers

Navigational Components

Description Examples
Search Field

A search box allows users to enter a keyword or phrase (query) and submit it to search the index with the intention of getting back the most relevant results. Typically search fields are single-line text boxes and are often accompanied by a search button.

Example of search boxes with various functions

Breadcrumbs allow users to identify their current location within the system by providing a clickable trail of proceeding pages to navigate by.

Example of breadcrumb

Pagination divides content up between pages, and allows users to skip between pages or go in order through the content.

Examples of pagination

Tags allow users to find content in the same category.  Some tagging systems also allow users to apply their own tags to content by entering them into the system.

Example of tags

A slider, also known as a track bar, allows users to set or adjust a value.  When the user changes the value, it does not change the format of the interface or other info on the screen.

Example of sliders

An icon is a simplified image serving as an intuitive symbol that is used to help users to navigate the system.  Typically, icons are hyperlinked.

Examples of icons
Image Carousel

Image carousels allow users to browse through a set of items and make a selection of one if they so choose. Typically, the images are hyperlinked.

Example of an image carousel

Information Components

Description Examples

A notification is an update message that announces something new for the user to see. Notifications are typically used to indicate items such as, the successful completion of a task, or an error or warning message.

Example of a notification
Progress Bars

A progress bar indicates where a user is as they advance through a series of steps in a process. Typically, progress bars are not clickable.

Examples of progress bars
Tool Tips

A tooltip allows a user to see hints when they hover over an item indicating the name or purpose of the item.

Examples of tool tips
Message Boxes

A message box is a small window that provides information to users and requires them to take an action before they can move forward.

Example of message boxes
Modal Window (pop-up)

A modal window requires users to interact with it in some way before they can return to the system.

Example of a modal window



Description Examples

An accordion is a vertically stacked list of items that utilizes show/ hide functionality.  When a label is clicked, it expands the section showing the content within. There can have one or more items showing at a time and may have default states that reveal one or more sections without the user clicking

Example of an accordion