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Why facebook and google use First Name & Last Name when some countries have family name first followed by their given name ?

google sign up form facebook sign up form

Why not just use Family Name and Given Name, and I think this is more clear. But seeing this, I'm not sure anymore. Is it so common that people will automatically put their name correctly? If Google and Facebook use it, I think it is standard now, but I want to know why first name & last name is better and more commonly used than given name & family name.

I'm building a website that will be used internationally, I want my users can interact with other people from different countries, and I'm concerned about some countries that have culture of calling person by their given name without their permission is considered rude.

UPDATE answering Serg's comment

Actually I'm asking about more general user experience, not for specific project. It's for my consideration for future projects that could have totally different subject than my current project.

For now, I'm working on open source apps that will be available world wide. Using this apps, user (company owners, admin, etc) can store data of employees, customers, suppliers, etc. I think first name and last name will be crucial when e.g company owner/sales department sending email / calling their customer.

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  • Very good point. I cannot figure why this happens, but it happens to me a lot of time. Maybe they considered english norms & it`s hard to take reference from all countries or cultures and adapt for each case. Family Name and Given name would be best in my opinion but who knows...
    – Chris
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 9:47
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    See, for instance, this W3C page on Personal names around the world and the perennial Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names.
    – TripeHound
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 14:01
  • Please, let us know something about your website and its users. Is this dating website? Is this car sharing? Is this online bargain pages? So one could see if there is real problem when one user calls another user in a way he wants.
    – Serg
    Commented Oct 17, 2018 at 14:23
  • @Serg updated my question. Is website's type e.g dating web, car sharing, online bargain should not have same way of addressing people? Commented Oct 18, 2018 at 5:45
  • Consider also to look into this topic: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/20513/…
    – Adriano
    Commented Oct 18, 2018 at 5:54

3 Answers 3

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A small tip for those wondering Given name is the same as First name.

TL;DR

You can either go with

"How do you prefer to be addressed?"

or

"Herr Schmidt! We've decided to call you Mr Blacksmith! Simply because we can..."

The longer read: what's your position on culture?

It's important to understand the following to be able to make an informed decision:

Do you want to have a product that is tailored to fit all the different cultures? or do you want to have a vision for a culture that is influencing and driving its users?

In the case of Facebook and Google (but more obviously Google) you can see clearly how they're trying in a way to enforce a certain culture in their use of words such as social, fun, cool, even going so far with their new Pixel 2 phone to call it the "Kinda Blue Pixel 2" (which both rhymes as well as being an unusual color as opposed to the more generic white/black/silver colors phones tend to come in.

How do both approaches compare?

The more you influence culture --by having a vision for it, or a direction or at extreme cases design for it-- the more you become niche oriented and becomes less suitable for everyone out there.

The more generic your position is the more compatible you are with different cultures, yet your identity becomes weaker and the chances of connection are lower and cultural conflicts are more likely to occur.

Metaphor

Influencing Culture

High Coherence: Think about a group of people that you find yourself belonging to, be it friends, family, colleagues, everyone speaks freely the language used is more connecting as well as the overall feeling.

Generic Culture

Low Coherence: In a random elevator filled with people you feel the awkwardness that everyone else has. No-one is interacting in any way, everyone is avoiding eye contact, and if anyone would say a word it'll usually be pre-thought and rehearsed in the mind a thousand times before it is uttered.

Conclusion

If you are trying to consciously avoid interfering with cultures and be more "open for all" you can simply ask the users:

"How do you prefer to be addressed?"

If you are willing to have the authority of influence, find the right way of doing it:

"All people are called by first name and last name only"

"All people are called the English translation of their actual name"

"All people are called by their honorific + academic title + first name + last name"

you study it, you decide it.

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  • (sidenote: the german common surname is written Schmidt with DT)
    – BlueWizard
    Commented Jan 30, 2019 at 19:59
  • In addition to the edit I just did before joining here (hi all!) I'd like to point out that "first name" is not the same as "given name" in most languages / cultures (here, by culture, I mean on the level of country). While in Germany (where I believe the poster of this answer hails from) someone born into the "Schmidt" family who was given the name "Peter", would be called "Peter Schmidt", the same person, in China, would be called "Schmidt Peter". And in an Arab country, there'd be so many people called "Peter Schmidt", you really need a patronym, too: "Peter son-of Michael Schmidt".
    – Sixtyfive
    Commented May 14 at 12:41
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It depends on your target market. The combination of "First name" and "Last name", in this instance, is unambiguous to a wider international audience, as not all users are familiar with "Family name" or "Given name".

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  • This seems to me like the most relevant reason. Also it's no uncommon in some countries for people to have more than one given name or family name. First and last is indeed unambiguous.
    – armatita
    Commented Oct 18, 2018 at 0:03
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    I'm thinking about some countries whose family name is their first name, and other countries has family name in their last name. If one doesn't know the family name is first/last, they might ended up being rude calling given name. Having form with given name & family name will prevent that problem. Is it true that most people don't understand "family name" and "given name"? Commented Oct 18, 2018 at 5:52
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Given the current state of social media in 2019, companies like Google and Facebook have an incentive to get users to provide more detailed names. Prompting for specific parts of a complete name is a good way to nudge (good-faith) users to enter "Tom Smith" instead of just "Tom."

Regarding the order of those fields, if you are addressing an international audience and you are already localizing your user interface, you can adapt your fields to match the expectation of the particular culture.

For example, I've taken the same examples you gave in your question, and changed my browser's first language to Japanese, whose typical name order is Family Name/Given Name.

You can see that both Google and Facebook have placed the surname/family name (姓) first and given name (名) second.

Screenshot of Google's account creation page in Japanese Screenshot of Facebook's account creation page in Japanese

You should seek expertise in localization (L10N) in a particular market if you're looking to build a user base in cultures you are not familiar with.

This solution doesn't prevent you from also asking for a screen name or how you'd like to be addressed like UX Labs suggests. This helps people in multiple contexts, such as a member of the Vietnamese diaspora (family name first) in France (given name first).

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    I see, different UI for different culture. Didn't cross my mind that we can do this as well. Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 2:46

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