UX Pickle

Merging First/Last name into One Field

Reading Time - 2 min

As a UX Designer, when designing forms such as the signup form, you should ask yourself: Is it necessary to have separate fields for first and last name? Most of the time, it’s not necessary. In fact, it might be better to merge these fields into one, as people are more likely to have the same first and last name.

Thankfully, the W3C has a guide on how to do this. This will depend on what you need to do with the data, but obviously, it will be simpler, where it is possible, to just use the full name as the user provides it.

Here is the best practice:

Full name
What should we call you? (for example, when we send you mail?)

This format will not only let you collect the full name e.g., for legal purposes but also enable users to choose the name they prefer to be addressed by. In UX design, it is important to make sure that the form is as user-friendly as possible. These two fields replace the need for two separate fields for first and last name and have more utility.

When you merge the first and last name fields into one, it makes the form simpler and easier to use. This is especially important on mobile devices, where screen space is at a premium. It also makes the form faster to fill out, as users don’t have to switch between fields. However, ask yourself: Will you ever be able to separate first and last names from full names if there are 3+ names?

Here’s a case when merging first and last name fields into one can work in your favor:

  1. The user enters their full name in one field.
  2. The system reverse concatenates and separates the first and last name.
  3. The field shows the split apart name so the user can verify it.

As you can see, there is a lot of development required just to save a few milliseconds of the user’s time. So the question is, is it even worth it? I think not. Instead of this, you should spend your time working on ways to guide users in the right direction.

Taj Moore has sketched a really catchy illustration of what users think when they see such fields:

Name Fields Cartoon

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