Don’t ask for First Name & Last Name

06/01/2016 Editorial

My wife is Vietnamese British, so this blog post is to point out that subscribe forms asking for "first name" and "last name" are annoying and you should avoid them.

For a lot of people, the name that Europeans would consider their "first name" does not come first, and their "last name" does not come last. So brands that apply European rules when combining first+last name together get your name wrong. This means that subscribing is more difficult and no brand wants that. OK?

Take Vietnamese names for example (basic rules for Vietnamese names). Vietnamese personal names generally consist of three parts: family name, middle name and "first name", sometimes used in that order, or sometimes with family name last and "first name" in the middle - and don't get me started on the whole anh em thing.

Names from other cultures have their own distinct (and possibly complicated) rules too, for example Chinese names.

The solution for your Subscribe Forms is: don't collect "first name" and "last name" and then combine them together, because the rules for doing this get too complicated if you want to deal properly with all major cultures. 

Instead, you should ask something like:

  • What is your full name? (e.g. "Nguyễn Mỹ Linh").
  • And what should we call you? (e.g. "Linh", "bà Linh",the Anglicised version "Lin", "Mrs Nguyễn", an adopted Western nickname, etc.).

Customers know how they want to be addressed - you don't - so why not just ask them?

Update: Twitter accounts can make a similar mistake. We get a lot of notifications like, "Hello Fresh, Thank you for the follow."

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