Always use a label

Designers often remove labels to create a minimal aesthetic and save space. However, minimal doesn’t always mean simple. Labels are essential to the user experience.

Let’s take a look at two examples whereby designers frequently ditch the label.

1. Add to basket form

When a form uses a select menu, designers sometimes rely on the first option in the list to denote meaning. Take a look at ASOS’s add to basket form.

ASOS’ product form omits labels on drop downs
The menus are mising labels

Notes

2. Search form

When a form has just one field—as would be the case with a search form—designers rely on placeholder text and the submit button to denote meaning. Take a look at Selfridges’ search form.

Selfridges’ search form omits the label
The search field is missing a label

Notes

Summary

Trying to declutter an interface to reduce noise is a noble goal. But labels aren’t noise. Removing labels to save space causes unnecessary usability problems.

Accomodating a visual label might be a design challenge, but we should embrace this challenge by prioritising their inclusion during the early stages of design. This ensures our forms are user-friendly.

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