I'm building a form that will have users selecting people in their household from a "select all" input.

We want to differentiate people in the household who may have the same name.

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Is there any best practice for achieving this? Thank you!


Depending on what information you have about each person, you can help the user differentiate between people with the same name.

The "Nobody in the household" option makes me think that the names belong to family members. If that's the case, show the relation of the different names. Like so -

  • Sarah (Mother)
  • Sarah (Daughter)

If that's not the case, try to add discernible information or facts in addition to the name. Like so -

  • Sarah (39 y/o, born in Pennsylvania, MIT alumnus)
  • Sarah (16 y/o, born in Boston, student at St. Mary's High School)

And if you are saying that there is absolutely no discernible information available, I would recommend rethinking the form as it isn't good UX to show this kind of data. In most cases, the user is going to consider this as a duplicate entry which would lead to incorrect data entry.

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  • Thank you! I ended up just using the age. Do you think it's best to add "y/o" or just leave it at (39) – dh1272 Aug 9 '19 at 15:35
  • I think, (Age: 39) would be best. Just the number would cause confusion – Shreyas Tripathy Aug 10 '19 at 18:16

I suppose it is a questionnaire. To differentiate the people you will have to ask them beforehand for an identification. This could be a the year of birth, a nickname. You could ask for a nick only if a name occurs more than once.

In households (or any group of people) having multiple persons with the same name face this problem in every day communication. In a lot of cases it is solved with nicknames.

The absolute minimum you could do is to use always the same order of the names in your form and give them a number. But this is not the best solution since the number does not connect to the real world and the user would have to remember which number belongs to which person.

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