A good UX for a form is one that makes it easy and fast to use. An experimental form like this, that uses natural language instead of the usual form display seems to be simple to use and creative, but is this enough intuitive?

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After I did more research on this UI pattern called “natural language form", a saw this article by Luke Wroblewski, "“Mad Libs” Style Form Increased Conversion by 25-40%". He talks about a “‘Mad Libs’ Style Form” that presented input fields to people as blanks within sentences, in a natural language and publish this conclusion:

Ron and his team ran some A/B testing online that compared a traditional Web form layout with a narrative "Mad Libs" format. In Vast.com's testing, Mad Libs style forms increased conversion across the board by 25-40%.

What do you think about the natural language user interface (NLUI) for a form? This innovative design help users to complete the data in a fun, easy way or it is not intuitive and what they expect?

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    Like everything, it's going to depend on context of use. Creating a user account for a forum? Sure, probably quite fun. Filling out a mortgage application? Probably less so.
    – JonW
    Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 10:45
  • @JonW Thank you for the comment. I don't have a clear opinion about this and I also think it's going to depend on context of use, but I wanted to see if someone has some pros/ cons arguments or a firm position. Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 10:51
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    My concern, in the example shown, is the lack of indication that it is a drop down list and what happens if there are many options? Also, that's a lot of fields to complete, how would you make them optional? Finally, if I type "fish and chips" into Google, as I'm signed in and Google knows my location, I get an instant list of fast food joints near to where I live, it's going to be tough to compete with that for ease of use. Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 11:31
  • The problem with the MadLibs story is that they also changed other stuff. For example they're highlighting the car and price afterwards, whereas it wasn't shown at all before the change. Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 7:59

8 Answers 8


My point of view (with a developer background)

  • Can be very hard to deal with the lot of culture and languages.

  • Harder to design help and error message

  • It's hard to represent optional inputs, because it leads to empty sentences

  • Can be hard to parse fast by the user

  • Not good when it is more than a few field

  • Require to have fields a minimum related to be put in the same paragraph

This innovative design help users to complete the data in a fun, easy way or it is not intuitive and what they expect?

In a marketing perspective I think it is fun and original for the user.
But in my opinion in a UX perspective it is not better than regular forms.


I think the main importance is complexity. Short searches using natural language actually feel natural and exciting if its a straightforward process. If you have to fill in more than 5-10 fields, it starts to feel like a chore, since you keep having to check what does the blank contain and which options do I have.

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    While this sounds plausible, do you know it's actually the case that people feel it is a chore? We need to be wary of basing decisions from assumptions.
    – JonW
    Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 13:00
  • I can only speak from experience on testing this in an energy market setting; filling in simple data like type of home type, age of property etc. was deemed fine by users in a natural language setting. However, we needed to know more. Adding additional details such as presence of solar panels, type of meter etc. was deemed too time consuming and more of a mental load than necessary. It also proved difficult to scan since it was longer than a few sentences. That's why I believe the use of natural language heavily depends on the complexity of the form you want users to fill in. Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 13:19
  • @Wendy I understand you think for a log form this is a bad idea, but what you think about using NL in a short form? Is it enough intuitive to complete a form like this? Will it be easy to fill all the fields? Commented Jan 22, 2017 at 6:26

The research demonstrates the use of such forms "increased conversion across the board by 25-40%". I don't have any research but in my opinion, although it gives an interesting touch, filling forms this way is not necessarily more handy than filling the inputs "traditionally", when done correctly.

“Natural language form" is good to give context to the data input, when the label and tooltips are not good at explaining what is the user selecting. But if these are done correctly I believe one can fill up things much faster. "Traditional" forms are direct and short questions and answers. However, in this natural language one has to re read the sentence every time a new input appears, is selected, etc.

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I would say, Yes and a big NO.

As others already mentioned, it purely depends on the context of use. As UX Design is a contextual approach and you must have already researched about your stakeholders and segment of your potential users. If they all belong to same location, age group and community Yes, "Natural Language" will come out to be a very influential.

But, it would just be a hypothetical argument that all the potential users belong to same location, age group and community. (Almost impossible, in the above described context). And if they don't, then the "Natural Language" will become a big hurdle in the accessibility of your app/website, resulting less conversions and low business.

Hence, for better accessibility and early adaptability it is always advisable to use "Standard Language" instead of "Natural Language".


I tried this very same with a few colleauges (all over 30) and unfortunately they did not understand how it works. I wonder if it's more intuitive for millennials and gen x or if it's a general affordance issue.

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    I'd like to know more about your experience and the feedback you had from users. Could you tell us more about the context, purpose of the form, conditions of the test? What were the reactions from users? Commented Nov 7, 2018 at 1:59
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    It was all very informal but - when I showed a prototype with this same UI to the other designer in my team he said that he wouldn't have been able to tell that the colored text was actually a dropdown. So we called two other colleagues and showed them the original form in the picture without telling them anything. The one using the computer would keep clicking on the green button and got frustrated. He also did not notice the form elements, while the other colleague guessed they might be interactive because of the hover animation. Not sure if language was also a factor (we are italian)
    – StarGirl
    Commented Nov 8, 2018 at 7:37
  • If I am able to make further tests in a more formal setting, I will add to this thread!
    – StarGirl
    Commented Nov 8, 2018 at 7:38

The main problem with natural language isn't accessibility, as some say, simply because it may be as accessible/inaccessible as most of other things, but the dependency on the context. The thing is it's not yet so common to be intuitive, as for example the standard form. And even though some may think it(natural language) is intuitive, it is not, because of the context! And part of the context is the human-computer interaction factor. It's not intuitive yet to communicate with computers in this kind of manner.


as all answers, it depends. for simple short forms this would be fine. but for longer, complex forms i wouldn't recommend this.

a good example of a simple form would be a flight booking

e.g. " i want to go to (destination) on (date) and return on (date)"

maybe rather than asking if to do it or not would be what's the best way to do it.


It looks fun and engaging but has one big flaw. It's the Localisation. Translating a natural language form, from English to, say 5 other different languages will cause a lot of grammar headaches. A lot.

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