Working on a web application prototype.

25 Jun 2012 - 8:41pm
4 years ago
2 replies
972 reads

How effective is placeholder text, assuming that the user can actually see it  (re:IE). Any material on the subject?

Thanks ahead of time.


27 Jun 2012 - 2:05am
Yohan Creemers


A blogpost by Laura Kalbag describes the pros and cons of placeholder text:

Summary: placeholder text is great for providing examples or input hints, but it's not advisable to use  placeholders as replacement for labels.

Ylab, designers for interaction

27 Jun 2012 - 12:26pm

@ Yohan. I agree. And, as with most design decisions, it is best to put the design in front of people and get a sense of what works and what doesn't. It is important to replicate the actual behaviour of the text as well (does it disappear permanently when you click in the box etc...). I agree completely that it shouldn't replace labels, or if it does only in a very carefully considered situaton. I don't know if this is the case for mobile apps though...maybe, due to space restrictions placeholder text is would be interesting to do some studies to find that out. Another important consideration is what words are used. These could be helpful or confusing and would need to be chosen carefully and match the brand voice for the app.

Check and see what implications they have on accessibility as well, forms and accessibility require careful consideration to do well.

Lastly, Luke Wroblewski's excellent book touches on this subject and lots of others in his book, "Web Form Design" which is available in PDF and hard copy format from Rosenfeld. I use his book as a goto and stray from his advice only with firm confidence from observing people use the site. He is excellent at discussing and mapping out various alternatives, when they may be appropriate and which choices tend to be more successful than others.


Syndicate content Get the feed