Sorry if the question is worded badly. I was wondering why most sites require the user to edit their personal information in sections. For example an ecommerce site in 'my account' would have:

  • User details ( name, email, password)
  • Address
  • Payment information with edit buttons under each section.

I was wondering if it is possible to instead of editing in sections just have ONE edit button at the bottom of account summary. This would unlock all text fields for the user to edit.

I've even seen examples of where edit icons are placed beside each text field. What is the logic behind this? Isn't that rather annoying having to click edit pencil behind each field.

3 Answers 3


It's usually because users are coming to edit particular pieces of data, rather than their whole record. When I want to update my password or change my shipping address, I look for those discrete tasks rather than thinking of a catch-all 'update my data' task. So I look for a 'personal details' or 'addresses' form rather than an 'edit my stuff' page.

For these sorts of task, it's better to show small forms that only pertain to the action in question, otherwise I have to seek the relevant fields in the page (which could be quite long if I have a lot of sections). It also allows the application to provide verification on discrete units of data (the short forms) rather than needing me to correctly answer everything all at once.


Its because the users don't like being forced to fill out the forms. Also its segmented because so it doesn't look intimidating, easer for the user to fill out the form in little chunks.

Also if you take a look at Amazon or Ebay they ask for password and username/email 1st so they get a user. then if they decide to buy something the user will supply their address + crad.

Also there is a trust issue, why is the user asked for a phone number or address number when he fill out newsletter subscription

Basically users hate forms! Smaller forms don't look so scary :)

  • Also check out Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks by Luke Wroblewski
    – Igor-G
    Oct 24, 2012 at 14:57

Having the form segmented allows for the information to be less prone to loss if an unexpected error occurs. While it does grant an incremental and thus less intimidating edit, the risk that a press of the back button or some other random event can kill all the data input by the user is somewhat mitigated by making the edit less monolithic. This is not a good substitute for good code, but it is commonplace.

Have you ever put in 350 characters into a field that allows 255 that then dropped the record when you hit submit? Seeing a segmented form comforts me in that it allows me as a user to proact bad code by copying the entire text of those fields and repaste to edit in case it drops the record. This may not prevent that from happening, but it allows for more granular controls that allow for better loss prevention.

  • I filled out an entire loan application once and had it fail. All the info was gone. That was in 1997. I am STILL mad about it.
    – Evik James
    Oct 20, 2015 at 20:43

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