Can anyone explain to me, why so many organizations collect your first and last name (rather than just your full name) on the sign up page?

  • 1
    Pretty simple answer: Companies like user data--specifically, who you are.
    – DA01
    Jun 15 '15 at 15:48
  • 1
    I think he means why two fields instead of a single "Name" field. I've wondered this as well. I don't remember the last time it was vital to sort by last name, nor have I ever cared how many "Smiths" there were. Jun 15 '15 at 15:51
  • 3
    As worded, this question is not ultimately seeking a UX-centric solution. The answer is, as already pointed out, the simple collection of user data. Jun 15 '15 at 15:52
  • 2
    @NathanRabe - that possibility does not seem apparent based on the wording of the question. There is no indication Pavel is asking about the number of fields, versus just collecting the data. If that is indeed what he is asking, I recall the question already being asked in the past. Jun 15 '15 at 15:55
  • @ Pavel - if your question is simply limited to why organizations ask for users name then this forum is not the best place for it. If you're asking how best to get users to submit this information, one field or two - or even when would it be best to ask - then the question would be more suited for this site.
    – Mayo
    Jun 15 '15 at 15:58

Because it's helpful to know the first name and the last name, rather than just the full name

Why it can't be done automatically

  • Without asking, a site cannot tell the difference between the following names:

    enter image description here

Why it matters

Sites often want to be able to communicate with customers using different styles, where first and last names are more effective than full names.

For example:

  • Dear Mr. Morgan, we are pleased to offer you the position of Chief Executive of our Too Big To Fail bank.
  • Hi John, it was great seeing you at our sample sale on Saturday. We hope you will return as a customer for future events.
  • Welcome back, John!

Being able to use a customer's first or last name can feel more polite or personalized than using a full name:

  • Dear James Pierpont Morgan, we are pleased to offer....
  • Hi James Pierpont Morgan, it was great seeing you...
  • Welcome back, James Pierpont Morgan!
  • 1
    One more reason: you can generate full name from first name + last name, but not vice versa.
    – mhick
    Jun 15 '15 at 20:44
  • One thing to be aware of: it's not safe to assume the last name is the family name (i.e., Mr X).
    – Kit Grose
    Jun 16 '15 at 10:24

Because it is impossible to split later in many cases without input from the user. Eg. when people give 3 words, you don't know if it is a double barreled last name or first name (or if they have included a middle name).


One thing to consider is how first and last names are handled in different cultures. One reason why it's better to only have one field for full name instead of separate fields for first name and last name.

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