Design Snippets is an educational mini-series of blog posts describing all you need to know about basic elements and components of user interfaces from their design perspective.

A snippet is a programming term for a small region of re-usable source code, machine code, or text.

To kick off the series here is all you need to know about one of the most used design components out there – text fields. Look no further for an overview of their structure, different types, and, most importantly, tips on using them correctly and what to avoid.

Overview and Structure

Text fields are the most common elements in forms. They have a standard structure, which the users recognise and understand.

1. Input Labels

Input labels explain the type of information, which the user is expected to insert. For example, if the field is optional or mandatory, this can be communicated via the input label.

2. Placeholder Text

Placeholder text gives an example of the answer which is expected from the user.

3. Input Container

Input containers separate text fields from the background. They also provide visual feedback via error, disabled & focus states.

Text Field Types

Different text field types can display inputs in two different ways: using single or multiple lines of text.

Single-Line Text Fields

Single line text fields can be used to get various types of data from the user. Many fields hold just text and numbers, but password fields hide them under dots.

Text Area

Input fields with several lines of text in a fixed height container. The initial size indicates that longer responses are possible.

Text Field Styles

Several text field styles can be used. Just make sure to use only one in the same interface.

States

States provide visual feedback to the user. Therefore, they are an essential part of interactive components, such as buttons and text fields.

Usage

Here are some examples of how to use text fields and what to avoid.

Avoid hiding labels

Avoid Using Long Labels

Use Proper Width

Consider Using Icons

Use Sentence Case

Do Not Mix Styles

Consider Using Support Text for Specific Conditions

Error Text

Use Proper Text Field Format

Consider Using a “Clear” Icon

Consider Using Tooltips

Maximum Character Limit

                                                                 _________

Stay tuned for the third part of the series, where we’ll continue with radio buttons, a selection control element, allowing users to select one option from a set.

In Design Snippets, also learn about:

Next articles (coming soon):

  • Radio buttons (vol 3.)
  • Checkboxes (vol 4.)
  • Forms (vol 5.)