Does having default text on simple forms improve usability or simply clutter the interface?

I have a sign in form that is very simple, and visually I think it would be better without the default text, but I am unsure whether this would create any confusion or not. Does anyone have experience with not having / removing default text?

(I know that the font size needs to be reduced to fit the text, but that is not part of the question)

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  • Do you need "remember me" in an iOS app?
    – Rahul
    Commented Sep 21, 2011 at 9:47
  • 1
    @Rahul: yes, because it's not an iOS app :P It's a web app.
    – JohnGB
    Commented Sep 21, 2011 at 10:07
  • Ah, for Vemble?
    – Rahul
    Commented Sep 21, 2011 at 10:13

4 Answers 4


There are several problems with adding labels and hints within the field, namely;

  • Once you've added in the content the label/hint has then been cleared out which makes it hard to reread the form and see what you've done wrong
  • If the browser has Javascript disabled then it's likey the labels will remain within the field and have to be deleted by the user before they can use start entering anything.
  • At a glance it appears to the user that the fields have already been filled in. Empty fields do not suffer from this issue.

There is some interesting reading about this over at the ever-reliable LukeW: Web Form Design: Labels Within Inputs and also over at UX Matters: Don’t Put Hints Inside Text Boxes in Web Forms


The 'email or username' text is useful as it reminds the user that they can use either an email address or a username to login with.

The 'your password' text doesn't add anything - so I'd remove it.

( I wouldn't use brackets either - they don't add anything)


I wouldn't confuse users with duplicate text, though I would indicate the first field is either email or username. I would also not include the required field sign as it's unnecessary in this case as it's kind of obvious.

It's also better to add explanatory sentence before/after the form if needed and leave the form clean and not cluttered.


The 'help text' is really only needed when a user needs actual help in the format or type of data they need to enter. Given that email and password are fairly common, I'd say the help text is pointless in this situation.

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