Field labels for non-native speakers of English

22 Feb 2009 - 7:12pm
5 years ago
5 replies
1242 reads
Marcus Coghlan
2007

Hi all,

I'm currently involved in a redesign of a registration form aimed primarily
at native English speakers, but with increasing use by non-native speakers,
especially from Asia. Unfortunately, using non-english labels is out of
scope for the time being.

Has anyone come across research on which name field labels are most readily
understood by non-native speakers?

a) surname, last name, family name
b) given name, first name

Any recommendations on these or other easily confused form labels would be
much appreciated.

Thanks, Marcus

Comments

22 Feb 2009 - 7:29pm
Steve Baty
2009

Marcus,

My experience in this area is with commercial/transactional systems. The
main insight from that work I would offer is that you focus your attention
on those fields most likely to stop someone from completing the registration
form. We tackled this issue by carrying out user research with non-English
participants, and getting feedback from them on which field labels cause
them the most confusion - to the point where they would abort the process
rather than risk going ahead with something they didn't full understand.

In our research these were mostly centred on options related directly to the
product/service being purchased, rather than fields such as name, address
etc. So, for example, we found that options relating to double versus a twin
room were commonly confused. In your case, if the registration process
includes some selection of service options - provide additional explanation
around these items. Make that description as unambiguous as you can -
include pictures or diagrams if necessary.

Best regards
Steve Baty

2009/2/23 Marcus Coghlan <marcuscoghlan at gmail.com>

> Hi all,
>
> I'm currently involved in a redesign of a registration form aimed primarily
> at native English speakers, but with increasing use by non-native speakers,
> especially from Asia. Unfortunately, using non-english labels is out of
> scope for the time being.
>
> Has anyone come across research on which name field labels are most readily
> understood by non-native speakers?
>
> a) surname, last name, family name
> b) given name, first name
>
> Any recommendations on these or other easily confused form labels would be
> much appreciated.
>
> Thanks, Marcus
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
Steve 'Doc' Baty | Principal | Meld Consulting | P: +61 417 061 292 | E:
stevebaty at meld.com.au | Twitter: docbaty | LinkedIn:
www.linkedin.com/in/stevebaty

Blog: http://meld.com.au/blog
Contributor: Johnny Holland - johnnyholland.org
Contributor: UXMatters - www.uxmatters.com
UX Australia: 25-27 August, http://uxaustralia.com.au
UX Book Club: http://uxbookclub.org/ - Read, discuss, connect.

22 Feb 2009 - 8:08pm
Ricardo Porto
2009

Hi, Marcus.

I totally agree with Steve but, regarding your direct question, as a
Portuguese native speaker, I can tell you that "last name" and
"first name", for Romanic languages are the best choices. However,
this may not be true to other cultures. It all depends on your target
audiences.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=39070

22 Feb 2009 - 7:47pm
Anonymous

Hi Marcus,
I didn't do any research about this before,but I have some
experience about it as a non-native speaker.As far as I know,people
here in China are often confused by "last name" and "first
name",so I don't think they are good choices.But,people usually can
clearly understand "surname""family name"and"given name".In
addition,I think "family name"is better than "surname"because
Asian people are very sensitive to the word "family" to show their
respect of family and they won't misunderstand what "family
name"means.

Hope it will help you a little bit.

Best!

Angela

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=39070

23 Feb 2009 - 1:39am
Eirik Midttun
2009

Angela (and Marcus),

When a Chinese says his name he will start with his family name and
then continue with his given names. First name and last name will
then be the opposite of what say in the western world. So, yes, avoid
it.

That said, they seem to be aware of our culture. The Chinese I work
with all use a western name of their own choice in business. For
example William Ni (and then Chinese names follow). You find this a
lot in Taiwan and Hongkong.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=39070

23 Feb 2009 - 3:10am
Abhay Rautela
2008

First name, last name works well in India, and I would presume it does
across South Asia. Family name is confusing here as opposed to being easily
understood by East Asians, as Angela says.

- Abhay

On Mon, Feb 23, 2009 at 6:42 AM, Marcus Coghlan <marcuscoghlan at gmail.com>wrote:

> Hi all,
>
> I'm currently involved in a redesign of a registration form aimed primarily
> at native English speakers, but with increasing use by non-native speakers,
> especially from Asia. Unfortunately, using non-english labels is out of
> scope for the time being.
>
> Has anyone come across research on which name field labels are most readily
> understood by non-native speakers?
>
> a) surname, last name, family name
> b) given name, first name
>
> Any recommendations on these or other easily confused form labels would be
> much appreciated.
>
> Thanks, Marcus
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Reply to this thread at ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=39070
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
Cone Trees- User Research & Design
http://www.conetrees.com
http://www.twitter.com/conetrees

Syndicate content Get the feed