I have been showing a prototype of my app to a few people and am surprised by how many of them don't know where to type.

The main screen has three input fields and a search button.

I'm talking about the new ICS EditText widget where it shows a line and a hint.

How should I handle this? I know native is the best way to go but I'd feel bad ignoring the issue.

here's a picture of the input fields, these are native and not styled at all, but somehow people don't understand that they are supposed to type in them.

Above is a picture of the input fields. These are native and not styled at all but somehow people don't understand that they are supposed to type in them. Should I style the fields to be more like the input fields we see on the web or stick to the native input style?

  • Please show us what you have and make the question more general to a problem that other people are likely to have which doesn't depend on a particular technology.
    – JohnGB
    Apr 21, 2013 at 14:09
  • I added a picture of the input fields, but I find it hard to seperate my question from te technology because that's what my question is about, should I style the fields to be more like the input fields we see on the web or stick to the native input style?
    – mars
    Apr 21, 2013 at 14:26
  • +1 The question is much better now. You should include your last comment into the question though, as it will improve it even more.
    – JohnGB
    Apr 21, 2013 at 16:28
  • 1
    Provide a more explicit hint: "Street (enter here)"
    – uxzapper
    Apr 21, 2013 at 21:35
  • I allready have a text on above the form saying "fill in one of the 3 fields to search"
    – mars
    Apr 22, 2013 at 10:07

2 Answers 2


If you are designing a native app (for any platform), you should use the standard elements as much as possible. That way a user of your app is more likely to know how to use it, assuming that they know how to use the standard apps that come with their platform.

In the case of Android, this is by far the most common way to show fields, and so I would strongly suggest using it.

However, if you were using this design for something for the web, I would need a very good reason to make it look like an Android app. People who don't use Android devices will very likely be confused by this at first (which is likely what you are observing), and so a traditional field is likely a better choice.

That said, I believe that given the current trends in smartphone growth and specifically Android growth, that this may not be an issue in a few years time.

  • Decoder to stick to the default view like you suggested altough it's a weird input field I do hope like you said it won't be an issue for the users.... Thanks!
    – mars
    Apr 22, 2013 at 22:51
  • decided... damn autocorrect :/
    – mars
    Apr 24, 2013 at 10:17

I just came across the same problem while designing a sign up page.

I agree the answers above. I am also surprised the see few new websites like newmyspace.com using the same.

Probably we should be able to find skin to input that give visual cue to users while have only border in the bottom but has some depth(inner shadow or something) inside the input field.

Inner shadow can be hidden for non android devices. What you think?

  • This is more of a comment than an answer--to provide commentary, it is best to utilize the comment thread below the post. As an answer, it would be great if you could elaborate on your reasoning as to why you agree--if other users find it helpful, they will give you up-votes! May 14, 2013 at 15:19

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