2

Should an inputs validation message read as A or B for each of the following?

A Nick Name must be 10 characters or less.

B Nick Name must be 10 characters or fewer.


A Number must be 10 digits or less.

B Number must be 10 digits or fewer.


A Name must be 10 letters or less.

B Name must be 10 letters or fewer.

  • 1
    This question on english.stackexchange.com appears to answer your question. – Paul Dec 11 '18 at 21:24
  • 1
    This Ngram appears to support less – Paul Dec 11 '18 at 21:26
  • 2
    From a UX perspective, I would refactor the sentence: 10 characters maximum (or digits/letters) conveys the same message. If the message is placed next to the input, the noun should not be necessary. – Paul Dec 11 '18 at 21:32
  • This is a good point. Is this best practice, using maximum? Also is it best practice to not include the noun on field validation? Right now when a required field is not filled out we call out the field in the message: "Name is a required Field." From a UX perspective should we clean up our system and remove the noun from our field validation messages, and just have above example say "This is a required field." or "Required field" or something of the sort? – L. Lemmer Dec 11 '18 at 21:51
  • I think that your last question would be best answered by an A/B user test, but something to think about is whether optional fields truly need to be there in the first place. Some of the good form design books suggest either removing optional fields, or moving them to the end of the form so you're essentially grouping required fields first. There's a lot of salient info in this research paper. – Paul Dec 11 '18 at 22:34
2

Linguistically, all these should be fewer because 10 is a countable amount. You can count the amount of charactera because it's a specific amount. Contrast this with "less text"; text isn't easy to count - is it less words, shorter words, smaller letters ('i' vs 'w') or another kind of measuring unit?

Usability wise though, you want to use neither less nor fewer. You want to use a maximum. Firstly because people tend to think from zero and upwards, so specifing a limit a limit and pointing 'downwards' is counterintuitive. Secondly because it removes the 'or' which seemingly splits a single restriction in to two and thus is harder to process. Lastly (although arguably intertwined with the first reason) is that a maximum seems more friendly. You CAN use 10 bu yoh don't HAVE to, versus you MUST stay under this.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.