Interesting discussion regarding float labels.

First off what is a float label you ask? It’s this:

I am not a fan of float labels, but I came across some internet discussions on it, and want to share.

Floating Labels are Problematic

We are often seduced by novel patterns that save space but this pattern is problematic.

And the rebuttal…


Just on the basis of the header font on the rebuttal page I disagree with it, but that’s nitpicky. :slight_smile:

What do y’all think?

The rebuttal is very nitpicky, and most of the points can themselves be nitpicked, so instead I’d just recommend folks do testing, and err on the side of accessibility.

I personally think most forms ought to be simplified, and split across multiple interactions (screens, or page loads), if possible. That allows for progressive disclosure.

I run into long, run-on forms all the time with clients; they want to capture all the information in one sitting, and then bemoan that no one fills it out. Well, no one wants to track each required field to submit a form, when it is much easier to just ask for essential information, and use other methods to get more information from willing users.

Also, the original article pointed out a bunch of ways floating labels can suck. That’s a useful reference to have.

I like your suggestion of asking for essential information and getting more info later. This is a really hard thing to get right. Sometimes if you ask for more info later, you can confuse people like “wait I filled out a form here already?”

The first time I saw a floating label was when another team implemented it in the igg payflow. I was like OOOOOOO. So I’m on the side of “OOO SHINY” xD

Agree w/ useful reference to have, also. Thanks, this was fun to read (the original and the rebuttal) =)

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Yeah… but ya know, people aren’t confused all the time. And if one has reason to suspect something they are sending out to people is confusing them, it can be addressed by explaining what is happening.

I am nitpicking that sentiment just because I hear it shared in the same meetings where we decide to make an 80 question form, “because otherwise we won’t get any information and will just confuse our users”. I haven’t seen any science done to indicate that people can’t do follow-up actions, but I’ve seen every person selling a product presume that follow-up for thier thing is important and people are confused if they don’t fill it out.

From my own interviews with people, I am lead to think most folks don’t care about the follow-up actions, rather than being confused. Or the confusion is actually indignation or impatience, “I have to fill out my profile to be found by my high school classmates… meh”. :slight_smile:

I agree on the basic principle. I should have clarified that the UI I had
in mind was confusing because it was more fields (that didn’t exist before)
inside the same form that the user had already filled out. Which is
terribly confusing. xD

What do you think of long forms but most questions being optional? (Then
why bother I guess? My thinking is, let them give you tons of info if they

I can’t really answer that without context, but let’s put it this way: tax forms or some government application, banking or medical records, those need to balance whatever they are doing with ensuring it is as easy to use as possible. Almost everything else is more stupid than those forms.

The way people talk about business metrics you’d think that customers were obligated to give you data, with headlines like, “You aren’t running your company correctly if you don’t have big data!” Putting aside the complicated decisions around “strong passwords”, a safe bet would be that the only two pieces of data a form needs is a username and password. Everything else is extra.

When I made a payment form (currently living at I made all the fields required, but I only included required fields: amount, email (for receipt), and credit card info (granted that is technically five fields, but I can’t think of another pattern to use).

On the other hand, my contact form ( has three fields associated with comments or email: message, name and email address. But only “message” is required, because that is all I really care about. But then again, I don’t show names in my inbox, so maybe that is a maiki-quirk…

My point being, each potential form should just be looked at and run through two questions (at the least):

  1. Which of these fields do we need a person to fill out?
  2. What else would be nice to have, knowing we will annoy them with each addition?
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