Required or Optional fields (web application)

Reading the topics about Required or Optionals indication is not really solving a problem I’m walking in to. Because the topic is closed, I’m making this new (2015) topic.


Designing a User Interface template for an ERP system build on APEX (Oracle) for a large company in Europe. I need to place data in lists, tables and forms (see image below). Each of these have required and optional fields, but you can not say there are more required or optional fields.

I think the optional field are always less important, otherwise they should not be optional. I like to make the optional field visually less important or mark them so you know these are optional. I tried this (see image) but the client is not happy this this, because of losing the placeholder functionality.

Design by Userflow Interaction Design

The problem

How to make optional visually less important without:

  • losing design and overview (table and forms)
  • wrong interpretation (inactive or close fields)
  • Something done with the label

Many thanks for your advice

Marcel @ Userflow Interaction Design

So you don’t want to use a red asterisk to the right of the field name for mandatory field to differentiate?
eg: Name *
(cannot make the asterisk red in this post)

Also, you could perhaps consider putting all the mandatory fields first, depending on how often the optional fields are completed and on how it affects the sense of flow.

Hi Petra,
Thanks for your reply. Yes, I can’t do those things in the forms. That is just what makes it hard to make.