R – GUI Design – ComboBoxes Versus Lists or RadioButtons


When should some GUI elements be used over others? For instance, how do you choose between a ComboBox, RadioButtons, or Listbox? For instance, I have seen ComboBoxes used for as many as two items and radio buttons for two items as well, on the same panel. How do you maintain a constant, intuitive GUI interface that is not confusing to the user?

Best Solution

From what i recall of the MS design guidelines, you should use radio buttons for up to four items and then a combo box for any more. One consideration is that combo boxes hide potential data while radio buttons always show all options. The drawback with radio buttons being that they take up a great deal of room. List boxes? i never use them. Logically they are no different than radio buttons in selection or layout so you might as well use radio buttons.

There's actually a great book that addresses questions like yours. It's currently in its 2nd edition

Handy link for MS UI guidelines in a single page. It doesn't actually address your question directly but a handy reference nonetheless. Here's a radio button-specific link.

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