Required fields - one or the other

14 Oct 2009 - 11:55am
4 years ago
5 replies
844 reads
Brian Mila
2009

Can anyone point to examples of forms that require one or the other of
something? For instance, a contact form where either email -or- phone
is required. The context is I have a web app that has search fields
in which some combination of elements is needed. There could be as
many as a dozen different search criteria, and out of those there are
up to four "primary" fields and only one of which needs to be filled
in (doesnt matter which one, they have equal weight).

Comments

14 Oct 2009 - 12:34pm
Eduardo F. Ortiz
2008

Brian,

As a simple answer, you can address it with a description for that section
stating that either field is required and grouping them into logical areas
(e.g. Sign-in information, Contact information, Personal details, etc).

Here are some samples from Chris Messina's flickr design patterns stream:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/factoryjoe/3048752006/in/set-72157609745241966/(look
at how the contact group - top right - is excluded from being
required)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/factoryjoe/362711703/in/set-72157600010086705/(notice
the -OR- which you could implement to state that at least one of the
fields is required)

Hope this helps,

E

On Wed, Oct 14, 2009 at 5:55 AM, Brian Mila <brian.mila at trizetto.com> wrote:

> Can anyone point to examples of forms that require one or the other of
> something? For instance, a contact form where either email -or- phone
> is required. The context is I have a web app that has search fields
> in which some combination of elements is needed. There could be as
> many as a dozen different search criteria, and out of those there are
> up to four "primary" fields and only one of which needs to be filled
> in (doesnt matter which one, they have equal weight).
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14 Oct 2009 - 12:48pm
Mike Myles
2009

I just came across this example the other day tracking an order (so it
sticks in my mind)...

https://www.zzounds.com/ordertrack/

It has some obvious issues: the inputs aren't horizontally aligned,
and the "OR" text is barely readable in yellow. So I wouldn't call
it a good example. I probably remember it because I noticed the
problems with it. But the general method of grouping related required
fields with text (ex. provide one of the following) is an option; it
just needs to be better executed than that example.

Since in your case there are only 4 primary fields - all equally
weighted, no dependency, that relatively simple solution should work.
If the relationship were more complex, such as dependant fields (i.e.
if you provide X you must also provide Z) then you might want to go
with a dynamic form that updates based on selections.

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14 Oct 2009 - 1:24pm
Sarah Weise
2009

Here's a flawed example:
http://www.regulations.gov/search/Regs/home.html#contactUs

I don't like that the asterisk seems to be defined twice here.

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14 Oct 2009 - 4:53pm
Marcus Coghlan
2007

Hi,

I'd suggest a single input field with the label reading, "Email or
phone". Use some 'hint' text to give examples of both or an
explanation that either is ok.
The coding of the field validation will increase in complexity a bit,
but your user's wont care about that.

Cheers. Marcus.

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15 Oct 2009 - 5:38am
Uidude
2009

I personally would not want to fill a phone number field in any form,
especially into a machine knowing that it will get stored in some
database. So I won't know who can misuse it anytime.

If the users for whom you design for think that giving a phone number
there can serve them (such as confirmation for an expensive courier
delivery, or sort of something that mean important to them) it is
fine to ask for a phone number. Otherwise always provide with an
alternate as Marcus suggests to have one field asking for either
email or phone.

The forms I saw in the examples mentioned above have labels
positioned to the left of the input fields. I have been lately
reading repeatedly at many places advising to place the form labels
above the input fields.

Hope this helps too :)

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