I've been doing some research into text input placeholders, and came across this: Pardot User Guide: Placeholders are not Substitutes for Labels.

What struck my interest was:

Data suggests that some web users think that form fields with placeholders are already filled in and may skip over them.

My question; is there an effective method of using placeholders to reduce the possibility of confusion that the placeholder text is some kind of auto-filled input?

Some examples:

Placeholder text examples

Personally, I would suggest the ex. John since it has the highest contrast to an actual input.

  • 3
    I don't think the wording of the placeholder is the issue. It's just the fact that there is anything in there in the first place. A text field is an empty box that you put content in. If there is anything in there, regardless of the text or how feint it is then that means there is something in the field. That means some people will think that that something is actual content.
    – JonW
    Jul 31, 2014 at 14:27

1 Answer 1


The most effective placeholder text I've seen is on the Polar sign up form.

polar mobile sign up

The placeholder text is an explanation of why the field is there or what the requirements for the field are.

I can think of a couple reasons for this:

  1. Most people already know what a "First Name" is without you giving them an example.
  2. We don't expect to see full sentences in these fields, so it's more clear that this is placeholder text and not values already entered.
  • 1
    Using placeholders as a means of communicating field requirements has never occurred to me, and seems like a great idea. Thanks for the answer!
    – Tory
    Jul 31, 2014 at 18:10

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