Good Defaults

Examples: Context:  The user should fill in information on a Form (or change settings via a Control Panel), and some of the data fields can be given reasonable default values.  This can happen within many different subpatterns:  Choice from a Small Set, Choice from a Large Set, Sliding Scale, Forgiving Text Entry, etc.

Problem:  How does the artifact indicate what kind of information should be supplied?


Solution:  Supply reasonable default values for the fields in question.  Show these defaults to the user, so that they know they aren't required to fill them in.  Indicate clearly that the value can be changed by the user, if they so desire.

Resulting Context:  You need to choose the correct default value.  The actual value you use will depend entirely upon the particulars of the artifact, of course, but keep in mind such principles as minimal work (pick a default value that most of your users will be OK with), adaptability (change a default value to be consistent with information the user has already supplied), and representativeness (make it a good example of "correct" input).

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Last modified May 17, 1999

Copyright (c) 1999 by Jenifer Tidwell.  All rights reserved.