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What is the latest UX research around prompting a user for their title e.g. Mr, Mrs, Ms, Dr, ....?

Some clear advantages and disadvantages are:

Advantages:

  1. A certain subset of users will feel they have been considered in terms of their title e.g. a doctor, or a judge... and this will reflect well on the website and the business.
  2. May give the website/business an impression of professionalism and formal nature (some businesses may want this)

Disadvantages:

  1. The speed of the sign up journey will be compromised because the list of all the different titles is very long.
  2. Increased cognitive burden could lead to decrease in the number of users signing up

It would be good to get a community census on this topic so I would be grateful if you could add to the list of advantages and disadvantages in your answers.

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It is an interesting one. I saw a label for the title written as 'Salutation' the other day, had to read up its official meaning.

When signing up for mail lists, you will need to know how the user will want to address themselves, having said that, a clever program could work out that the first part of the 'text' before their First name could be their title, but they may not enter a title, so you would need to have some logic that attempted to recognise if Mr, Miss or Mrs was used, and then if so assign that as the title, and if not, only save their first or first and last name.

As you mention, it does also matter what the site is about. A lot of design agencies now just ask for your name when you get in touch. It can even be only your first name, that is good enough. If you think about it, it is one less form field that is not required if you do not ask for it, and that will always win as people do not have much time these days. We want what we want fast! The more formal the site, the more the need for posh words like salutation for example.

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This also depends on the region. For example, in Central Europe it is very common to use titles in front of/after names, to the extent that many people use those on their business cards/in their email signatures. Also, some people (usually older ones) like being referred by their title, such as Prof. John Doe, Dr. Jane Doe, etc. I think this is also common in some German-speaking countries. On the other hand, in English-speaking countries this is much less common.

So, it depends on what kind of users you have...

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Unless your form is related to financial, medical or legal services I would not include a title field

As stated you may need a title in these situations but otherwise I'd avoid including a field for the information.

  • Generally it's unnecessary to produce unique IDs
  • It's another field users will feel obliged to complete (even if it's marked optional)
  • If it's included as a dropdown select field you could be talking potentially hundreds of titles.
  • Even if you think you'd listed them all you will still need an "other" option and a field for the more obscure options

It's an added complexity that is more likely to annoy most of your users so I'd avoid it.

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