, by  Tom Simnett

Dear Mrs John Doe - How do you want to be addressed?

How important is your title?

Mr, Mrs, Sir, Professor (or Prof for short). Esq., MSc, MPhil. Some of us use them, and some of us don’t. So how do you like to be addressed when someone you don’t know emails you, or writes to you, or welcomes you to their site? John, Sarah, Mrs Emily Rogers, Sir David Platt? Everyone seems intent in separating all the information out. So often you want to sign up for something and you’re asked for your title, your first name and your surname (better ones ask for your last name).

What happens then if you don’t want to tell people your title, or you don’t like to use it in addresses to yourself? And what if you don’t have a last name? Well I’m sorry, but you can’t sign up unless you fill in all the details that we’ve marked as mandatory.

Six months down the line and you’ve signed up for a site selling contact lenses cheap online as Mr John Doe. You get an email and the subject line says “Get new contact lenses even cheaper now, John”. Great. So you’ve now had to fill in all your information, only for the site to make a mockery of how you like to be addressed, or really how it thinks you’d like to be addressed.

How can this be resolved? Quite easily: just ask for a name. Let the user decide what form that takes, and even if it is to be in English or not. A single field that looks something like this:

Name:

You’ve resolved a whole host of issues here. Namely that the person now feels that they can be addressed as they wish to be addressed and you don’t have to check to make sure they have a title, firstname and surname before letting them submit the form. It’s quicker for the user to fill in the form, so you’re more likely to have them continue through rather than dropping out.

A short article describing an easy resolution to a problem created because we feel the need to have more data capture. This is not only more, it’s simpler, and more importantly, more accurate.