Getting Started: Field Hints
What’s a hint?
A hint is a helpful little companion to a form field. They give you handy clues and directions about what’s needed.
Poppin’s customer registration form, for example, explains what the password hint is for. It’s also clear that you don’t need a partner code.
Here’s another example: When you’re signing up for a WordPress blog, it’s useful to know that you can change your website address later.
Good hints are valuable
Be sure to consider how you can write the best, most useful hints for your users.
Let’s say your form requires an Account Number. You could write a hint to provide some information about the expected format, like “123-4567-89” — but that can be done through input validation.
Instead, why not use this space to help people find their Account Number?
Adding hints is easy with FormAssembly
4 ways to display hints
You can add hints below, on the side, in a pop-up, or as placeholder text. Each location has different benefits, so you should think about what you need and how your respondents are going to see the form. It’s all about their experience, so you want the hints to be as helpful as possible!
Here’s a handy pros and cons list:
1. Hint below
- Visible even when you’re not typing in the field.
- Good if this hint should stand out with just a quick glance at the page. Otherwise, it can add clutter.
- Works better with less space (e.g. narrow form, sidebar form).
2. Hint to the side
- Just like the “below” hint, it’s visible even when you’re not typing in the field.
- Also good if this hint should stand out with just a quick glance at the page. Otherwise, it can add clutter.
- Best if you’ve got empty space on the side, in a full-page form.
3. Hint as a pop-up
- Hidden until the field is selected, so it’s clutter-free.
- Make sure it’s something unique to the field, like an expected input format: mm/dd/yyyy
4. Hint as placeholder text
- Most space efficient — nothin’ extra needed.
- Disappears as soon as the text is typed, which can be confusing if the respondent didn’t play close attention. (If the field requires a very specific format, consider a Custom Format instead.)