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In your experience, what's the best (user experience) method for giving users more information on certain fields that they have to fill out? Note that these fields are part of the set-up process of a SAAS.

Do tooltips work better than just displaying the help text next to the field?

If plain help text is used, where is the best place to display them? (below the field name, box or to the right?)

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. I couldn't find any resource online that compares the effectiveness of the different type of help texts.

6

Smashing magazine has a pretty good article covering this topic but I will try and condense it into a few simple tips that have tested well for me over the years.


1. Vertical layouts provide the quickest comprehension

Place labels directly above form fields and any hints directly below.

There are certain cases where adding place holder text inside of empty fields is a good option but the vertical layout is your bread and butter.

vertical form fields


2. Inline validation is better than listing all errors at once

When a form field loses focus it is always good to instantly let the user know when something is wrong so they don't have to figure it out later. inline validation


3. Forgiving inputs are better than strict validation

Be happy with anything the user provides. Don't make them type their address and phone number a certain way and provide instant inline feedback in cases where validation can't be avoided.

forgiving inputs


4. Fewer fields are better than more fields

Only ask for input from the user as a last resort! If you don't absolutely need to know it then don't ask the user to provide it. (or at the very least let them know which fields are required and place them up top)

fewer fields


5. Natural language is better than cold hard fields

Depending on the situation using natural language has shown to increase conversion rate by as much as 28% over a standard list of fields.

natural language

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My opinion:

If the text is truly useful, don't hide it in a tooltip. If it's not truly useful, don't clutter the screen with a tooltip.

For text that is truly useful, ideally it's part of the label itself:

Field Title (helpful text here):
[                              ]

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