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I am working on an interface that asks the user to add 5 or more email addresses. The invite email that gets sent is the same for all invitees. Is it better to use 1 field for the user to add all the email addresses or multiple individual fields for each email?

  • Probably the biggest problem with one field is keeping the addresses separate (especially if the copy-paste something like "Fred Bloggs" <fred.bloggs@example.com>. If you do go with one field, I'd probably make it a multi-line edit box and insist on one address per line. Using _separate fields is probably cleaner still, but you then have to consider add/delete buttons etc. – TripeHound Jul 26 '17 at 9:31
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One input will be much user friendlier especially if this filed will instantly tokenize and validate the input as it is done in almost all email clients

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  • This would be the way to do it, if you can manage it. To slightly simplify the processing, you could have a text-box where you enter new email addresses, that on completion get added to the "To:" list as "boxed" entries as shown above. – TripeHound Jul 27 '17 at 7:42
  • This is basically how it works, inline input box without the border. Solution is tricky to implement, but there are controls one can adjust to save implementation time. – Jurijs Kovzels Jul 27 '17 at 10:01
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Same as Jurijs, I would go with one field only. However, I'd use a textarea, clearly explaining that each email should go on one line.

The reason for this is that is:

  • simpler
  • users probably have been exposed to this many times
  • cleaner
  • users will quickly understand what to do if they want to delete or modify a record.
  • a 5 lines textarea will quickly transmit an affordance, which is more complex on single line fields
  • scanning is really fast, as opposed to single line, or multiple lines with different fields

From the stakeholder view, it's really easy to implement, just one field and that's it. Having multiple lines will require controls for each field, and will have a way bigger friction. Not only you'll have a lot of control, but... what happens if the user wants to delete the 3rd field?

  • Will she think the 4th will move up?
  • will she think she'll have to edit rather than delete?

Simply put, you'd be leaving room for confusion, which means you'll lose time testing things that might not need any testing.

On the other hand, a single textarea will have very low friction, if any. Hence, my suggestion would be: go with a textarea and one email per line.

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