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In my opinion overlays are not a good experience on mobile. But let's say you have a form, and certain fields might need clarification, how can I go about presenting this without using an overlay?

I had considered that an accordion type reveal can work, but is there a more preferred alternative?

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I'd stick with accordion-style reveal. It's a mobile device, so you pretty-much have to scroll anyway. –  LordScree Apr 19 '13 at 11:01
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Use plain text in simple html is probably the most efficient way to display inline information between form inputs. But that's not the only thing to concider:

  • Limit input to essential fields. Or, as Luke Wroblewski says in his book Mobile First, “When it comes to mobile forms, be brutally efficient and trim, trim, trim.” Limit registration forms to the minimum fields required, and use shorter alternatives where possible, such as a ZIP code instead of city and state...

  • Display default values wherever possible. This could be the last item selected by the user (such as an airport or train station) or the most frequently selected item (such as today’s date when checking a flight’s status):

  • Offer alternate input mechanisms based on the device’s capabilities where possible. Apps take advantage of quite a few input mechanisms built into devices, including motion, camera, gyroscope and voice, but mobile websites are just starting to use some of these features, particularly geolocation.

  • Use the appropriate input mechanism and display the appropriate touch keyboard to save users from having to navigate their keyboard screens to enter data. Keep in mind that inputting data is more tedious on feature phones that have only a numeric keypad. For non-sensitive applications, allow users to stay signed in on their mobile device; and save information such as email address and user name because mobile phones tend to be personal devices, unlike tablets, which tend to be shared between multiple people.

  • Consider offering auto-completion, spellcheck suggestions and prediction technology to reduce the effort required to input data and to reduce errors — with the ability to revert as needed. Disable features such as CAPTCHA where not appropriate.

Reference: User Input from the article The Elements Of The Mobile User Experience

But there are more to do, such as field zoom, input formats, changing lkeyboard based one expected input, password masking, pop-up menu control, compund menu control, native input control and orientation. More on that in Luke Wroblewski's great article Forms On Mobile Devices: Modern Solutions.

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