A partial archive of discourse.wicg.io as of Saturday February 24, 2024.

The current state of HTML forms


I wrote up some critiques and gotchas to look out for when dealing with web forms, as well as some ideas to improve user and developer experience. I was directed here to discuss them.


I appreciate the placeholder attribute and would not like to see it being ditched or repurposed.


Can you elaborate? I personally find it more confusing than helpful. User research shows the same.


[WHATWG description:] The placeholder attribute represents a short hint (a word or short phrase) intended to aid the user with data entry when the control has no value. A hint could be a sample value or a brief description of the expected format.

Having the option to aid the user is good. Explaining by example (in addition to a good description, which can be provided by label) is a proved strategy and has been used in teachings for thousands of years. The attribute was implemented, I think, because many websites emulated something similar by JavaScript or put examples as intial values into form fields. The latter, however, forced users to delete these values letter by letter before entering their data, which is somewhat irritating.

Of course some people like examples better, others prefer an abstract description. Some people might even prefer to be given a regular expression, I don’t know.

Where can I read the user research you bring up? What are the arguments against placeholder? I didn’t find any reasons in the article that suggests ditching/repurposing it.

Some or even many people prefering a different kind of aid is not an argument against keeping placeholder as it is now. You can have a new mechanism that you like better without dropping the option to use placeholder as it is now.