Recently, I stumbled upon a situation where I need to create a form with fields that are somewhat unpopular.

For example, I ask for users' post-nominal letters. Now this term is really not so comprehensive because most people (at least most my users) do not understand what that is.

Some alternatives that I can think of:

  • Rephrase it into something like "Awarded Designations" or "Professional Qualifications" (but it doesn't really cover the whole meaning of "Post-nominal Letters").
  • Use descriptions to explain the term (but long descriptions is not nice to the layout).
  • Use placeholder to show examples (but it can't cover too many use cases).
  • Use an information icon where users can click to expand a toolkit explanation (but there's no guarantee users will click it).
  • All of above (but it makes a simple form seems very complicated).

So in cases like these, should I stick to the correct use of term, or should I choose another term that is easily understandable to my users, or is there anything else that I can try?

2 Answers 2


I'm taking care of the design of Kiwi.com mobile app, which is 100% global and is used by people from all over the world. Making inputs clear for everyone one on the planet is our daily bread, and in our case:

  • We always try to optimize for the majority of people (even if it means using laymen terms).
  • If there is a possibility that the user will get confused (by the usage of laymen term) we deal with it in two ways.
    1. We display additional information when the input is activated (if it can be explained in one sentence). For example below the input.
    2. We display "What is this" button (always, not only when the input is activated) with a detailed explanation of what we want.
  • We don't use placeholders that much, because if we do we need to make sure it works internationally, and sometimes it is just too much hassle. But if you are designing for one language, it would help.

In our case, it is crucial that the users fill out all the information correctly because otherwise, they can get stuck at the airport. And so far this approach has worked well.

  • Could you use "Suffix", which is easily understood to mean "letters after one's name" but might also include non-titled designations such as "Jr."?
    – Izquierdo
    Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 18:05

Use combo box. You can list most common post-nominal letters which lets user understand what are you asking for. Also user free to enter his letter which is not in the list.

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