The Disadvantages Of Labels Within Controls, Starring Google+

I’ve spoken on many occasions about the pitfalls of putting the labels within the text boxes in a data collection form. I know, the designers are all about the “real estate” as though they’re subdividing oceanfront lots in New Jersey, but they’re really doing it because that’s how the other cool designers are doing it this year.

So allow me to show you a pitfall of this as it happens in Google+.

If you want to add links to your personal profile, you look at this little bit on the right sidebar:

Google+ links

Ha! As if Google didn’t already know where I am on the Web, where I was on the Web, and where I was last Thursday at 10:32 am when their satellite passed over. At any rate, you click and you get this little control:

Google+ links

All right, I want to add a link, so I click that link and:

Google+ links

I get a control box with focus set to it, so the cursor replaces any text that had been in it. Like the label.

Being a seasoned computer veteran, I immediately typed my URL into that box, which failed.

When I changed focus on another try, it became clear that the form’s idea of what I was supposed to put there differed from my own:

Google+ links

Ah! Not the URL, but a free text label to apply to the link. That is, the clickable text to display.

But I had no idea. But real estate was saved!

As I mentioned on Twitter, I’m currently up to 3 defects I’ve found with Google+ acting only in the capacity of a user. What’s your score so far?

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