You’ve likely noticed little “help” buttons at times appearing next to certain input fields, like those featured in the image here:
For the past several posts, we’ve focused on ways you can provide guidance to users who are inputting data and information on your site, as well as the means by which you can help prevent and catch input errors. Now, we’ll talk about how to further aid users who may require additional background and assistance in filling out forms online.
If you find that the label identifying a user input field is somehow insufficient to describe what information is needed, then context-sensitive help for the user should be provided. This can take the form of a button, which gives users further explanation of what they should enter in the field, or it could be a spell-check program that shows suggestions for words a user may be intending to write. For shorter forms or forms in which many fields require information or data in the same format, you can also consider including instructions before the first field informing users of any noteworthy restrictions or common errors to avoid.
Since this criterion is only necessary if the label identifying an input field does not provide enough context for users, it has been designated level AAA (see our post on WCAG 3.3.2 Labels or Instructions for best practices when including labels for user input fields).
For more information on WCAG conformance levels, check out our post on conformance.