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I have an e-commerce site and in the payment page, where the visitor enters their address and payment details, I use a tooltip for each field. e.g. "(required) Please enter your first and last name"

Upon the minimum required characters, or regex, the tooltip then changes to read "accepted". Is this ok? Or is it confusin to the visitor, as they may have only entered in half their name and it has already accepted their entry?

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If you aren't already familiar with the HTML5 form features, you might want to take a look. There are some validity tests that can be done without the need for JS: dev.opera.com/articles/view/new-form-features-in-html5 –  cimmanon Oct 1 '13 at 20:09
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The only way to know if this is confusing to a user is to test it. Different user demographics in different contexts will respond in different ways.

That said: this is a pretty well-studied problem, and A List Apart has an excellent piece of research on the topic. Their findings showed that the best approach depends on the nature of the data:

  1. If the data has "strict boundaries" (a unique username or correctly-formatted password), show validation messages during input but only after a short delay where the user has stopped typing. (That is: give them a helpful nudge if they seem to be having trouble.)

  2. If the data is more open-ended (like a first name), show validation messages after input, specifically "on blur", i.e. when focus has moved off of that input.

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