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.
It might make it hard if the user has a long full name that’s hard to pronounce or spell. It’s not efficient to spend too much time figuring that out. An alternative to searching by full name is to search by their email address or phone number. These input data are unique and sometimes more straightforward than the user’s full name.
Cultural Inclusivity for Usability
The structure of a name is not the same across cultures. Users who visit your site will consist of a broad range of people from different countries. Your name field should be culturally inclusive so that no one struggles to fill out your form. With most things in life, having two is better than one. But when it comes to name fields, having one is better than two.