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This guide explains how to ask for people’s names.

Meeting the Digital Service Standard

To pass point 13 (make the user experience consistent with GOV.UK) in your service assessments you must use GOV.UK design patterns and guidance.

Read the guide on using, adapting and creating patterns before you start designing or building anything.

Make sure the fields work for most of your users

Make sure fields are long enough and support all the characters needed to accommodate 95% of the names you need to capture

Use a single name field where possible

Use a single name field because it can accommodate the broadest range of name types and requires less effort for users to understand.

Here’s an example:

Screen Shot 2016-11-17 at 16.14.24.png

The problem with multiple name fields

Multiple name fields mean there’s more risk that:

  • a person’s name won’t fit the format you’ve chosen
  • users will enter their names in the wrong order
  • users will try to enter their full name in the first field

Labelling name fields

For single name fields, use ‘Your full name’.

For multiple name fields, use:

  • ‘First name’
  • ‘Last name’

If you can’t use a single name field and many of your users aren’t from the UK, use these labels:

  • ‘Given names’
  • ‘Family name’

Don’t use a ‘middle name’ field unless you have to, and make sure it’s optional. You don’t need to mark it as optional.

Make it clear whether you need someone’s common name or their full legal name.

Avoid asking for people’s title

You shouldn’t ask users for their title.

It’s extra work for users and you’re forcing them to potentially reveal their gender and marital status, which they may not want to do.

There are ways to address people in correspondence without using title, for example by using their name.

If you have to use a title field, make it an optional free-text field and not a drop-down list. Predicting the range of titles your users will have is impossible, and you’ll always end up upsetting someone.

Remember to deal with the name data sensibly in any resulting correspondence.

Discuss names

Discuss asking for names on the design patterns wiki.

Further reading

Read these articles to learn more about asking for users’ names:

You may also find these guides useful:

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Guidance first published