Why Your Form Only Needs One Name Field

UX Movement
3 min readFeb 14, 2017

Does your form have two separate fields for the user’s name? If it does, you’re making it harder for them to fill out your form. But there’s a better way.

Split Name Fields Cause Problems

Not every user has a first and last name. Their cultural background determines how their name is formed. For example, if you’re from Latin America, the chances are that you have two last names, one from each parent. If you’re Chinese, your family name is first, personal name is last, and you always use them together.

Requiring every user to type their name into two separate fields is an impossible task. Some users will be able to do it, but others won’t know how to split their name into first and last. These users will get confused, leave a name field blank, and won’t be able to submit the form.

Single “Full Name” Field

A single field labeled “Full Name” is more culturally inclusive. The full name may include first, middle, last, family and other given names. It allows users to type in their name without splitting them into first and last. This approach makes the text field usable for every user no matter what culture they come from.

Preferred Name Field

Sometimes you may want to parse the user’s full name so that you can address them appropriately on your interface. Since the full name field doesn’t parse their first name, you can give users a “What should we call you?” field or a “Preferred Name” field on your form. This field allows you to address them the way they prefer without identifying the first name.

Database Name Search

Full name fields can make it easy or hard for you to search for users in your database. It can make it easy because a full name is a unique parameter — a first or last name alone isn’t. Many people have the same last name, and many more have the same first name. Searching by first or last name alone would return too many results to sift through.

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