Placeholders are problematic

I was looking on MDN how to change the color of placeholders for my Survey Form project because for me they were like: how can you see that color is almost transparent? so there’s a link to an article about Placeholders are harmful

Some of the points are: “Field with stuff in them are less noticeable” and "Users may mistake a placeholder for data that was automatically filled in"

So the conclusion is just to take the placeholder down and use labels and hints outside the form field, and I fully agree. What are your thoughts?

This issue can be avoided entirely by making the field required which doesn’t accept empty responses.

I think placeholders are excellent if executed properly. If they’re there for cosmetics only then yeah I’d say there’s better ways to express what the desired input is.

Yep, but that doesn’t resolve this: “Field with stuff in them are less noticeable”. In the end, it makes me think, what is the purpose? If you have a label and a hint outside the form field. Are they really necessary?

In which cases, for you, placeholders are excellent?

I believe placeholders are excellent in simple situations such as a new user signing up for a website


Or perhaps a password reset

Old password
New password

Something along those lines. Situations where the user knows or is expecting to fill out every input area.

Now if you had a survey with multiple inputs that would be a good time to express instructions outside of the input area so the user sees that the space is indeed blank and needs information.

Ultimately you can’t create a situation where the user is perfectly aware of what’s going on, on a page. Even when instructions are spelled out at an elementary level they will still find ways to get lost and get confused. That’s why UX is such an elaborate field to get into!

Usability and user experience (UX) is a really interesting topic because of conversations like this. There is, of course, rarely a “right” answer but the conversation lets us make conscious tradeoffs.

Some people point out that users often skim over form elements that look filled out. Other people will point out that placeholders help tell users how input needs to be formatted or what sort of data to put in a nonstandard form element. A developer might jump in that for some form types, like dropdowns or radio buttons, displaying an empty value for a required field can increase the likelihood of behavior bugs. A designer takes that (and other factors) into consideration. They might opt to have a tooltip or descriptive label and omit placeholders. They might choose to use placeholders but style them in a way to reduce confusion - such as reducing contrast or making them red to indicate a required field. They might also choose to use unstyled placeholders, but programatically force focus on fields.

These are interesting conversations to have and difficult problems to solve. The hardest thing to write your code around is always user behavior!


I will be the kind of person who misses field forms and with the simple: Name, placeholder: Enter your name. I will be like: do you want my first name or my first name and last name? That thanks to my ADHD, I will be like you need to be more specific, no room for doubt.

You’re right, it is an ongoing conversation, definitely, and there’s no right answer. I was trying to make the Form Survey the best way I could to be accessible for all, but there’s a whole world out there about it.

Sometimes the best we can hope to do is be aware of which tradeoffs we made so that we can be prepared for the potential issues and mitigate them.


Beautifully said! I wish I could like something twice :hushed:

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