Google New Zealand: Poor Radio Buttons Arrangement

Published on January 15, 2007

When I was in New Zealand last month, I noticed a very obvious usability/accessibility issue on the Google New Zealand homepage. Take a look at what I saw and see if you can pinpoint the problem.

Thumbnail Version of Google New Zealand Homepage Screenshot

It's the layout of the radio buttons. Notice the arrangement: "Search:" then a radio button, then "the web" then a radio button, then "pages from New Zealand." This can be a bit confusing.

Is the first button associated with "Search" or "the web?" Is the second button associated with "the web" or "pages from New Zealand?" Would you want your users asking themselves these questions? The answer is, "no."

Ideally, radio buttons should be listed vertically. When presented vertically, the association between the button and label become more apparent. This means less confusion.

If it's necessary to display the list horizontally, then the association between button and label can be made more apparent by effective use of white space. Space apart the options so that the user which choice goes with label.

The following are suggested layouts for the Google New Zealand homepage:

  • Google New Zealand homepage with radio buttons listed vertically

    Thumbnail Version of Google New Zealand Homepage with Radio Buttons Listed Vertically

  • Google New Zealand homepage with radio buttons listed horizontally, but with more space

    Thumbnail Version of Google New Zealand Homepage with Radio Buttons Listed Horizontally but with More Space

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