Yesterday I released the beta of version 2.0 of my Feature a Page Widget plugin! This new version includes a ton of requested features and an improved design of the widget form.
One of the late design changes I made to the widget form makes me really excited…and terrified. I need a second opinion.
The Feature & UI
The Feature a Page Widget plugin for WordPress user interface (UI) displays a small preview of content that links to a full page. The display includes the content Title, “Featured Image,” and Excerpt. Here’s a diagram showing the settings and a parts of the widget they control:
The widget adds four new options that are depicted in the diagram:
- Show a “Read More” link
- Hide the Title.
- Hide the Image.
- Hide the Excerpt.
And when they’re all selected, here’s what it looks like:
Stop right now and ask yourself, “Can I quickly identify what each of those four options does?”
Now save that thought.
You’ll note that all four options are “checked,” but the first uses the normal check mark and the latter three use an “X.” My rationale for this is that checking the first box shows something and checking the latter three boxes hides something.
I’ve struggled with this distinction in the past in my Post Status Menu Items plugin that again has checkboxes for both hiding and showing things.
Particularly with that many checkboxes, it can get confusing to keep track of, so my hope is that the check mark and cross distinction will make sense to users and help them track better what each setting does. But I could be wrong.
Reasons that would indicate I should not do this:
- There are now two different checkbox designs to indicate one checkbox “state” (that the box is checked).
- The second design is non-standard. By default, all browsers use the “check” icon to indicate the checked state. Because of the ubiquity and proven track record of checkboxes, it’s dangerous to mess with them.
- If I’m being honest, this idea occurred to me when I realized how easy it was to change the icon for the “checked” state in WordPress. ((For instance, here are those same checkboxes using carrots! )) Ease of implementation can sometimes be a red flag.
So if this UI is a problem, I can see a few solutions:
- Just go back to single check marks and leave everything as is.
- Change the “Hide” options to “Show” and have the show options checked by default. ((I’ve previously wondered if checking things by default implies to users that the settings had been modified by someone before, another source of potential confusion.))
- Use some 3rd UI element I haven’t thought of.
I’m not thrilled with any of those ideas either, but I want to put them out there for comparison.
What Do You Think?
So I could really use a quick reality check from anyone who’s ever checked a checkbox. I’m assuming that’s everyone.
If you have 30 seconds, please leave a quick comment with your thoughts on the forms and whether two visual checked checkbox designs made it easier or harder to understand the options.
If you’re feeling really generous, take Feature a Page Widget 2.0.0-beta out for a test drive and report back with your findings.