The Error Only Approach to Form Field Validation

3 Jul

Christian Holst’s article Form-Field Validation: The Errors-Only Approach outlines an interesting error message strategy. The idea is that when a form is submitted and errors are returned, only the fields that need to be corrected are (re)displayed to the user instead of showing them the whole form again.

This makes sense conceptually because the users only see the items they have to correct so it’s immensely clear. The problem, which is a show-stopper, is the loss of context. If the user wants to change their inputs based on their errors, they’ve already lost the context of the form itself.

It’s an interesting concept though and may have some specific use cases where it might be advantageous to minimize the amount of data displayed to the user, like in mobile contexts.

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