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Additional information #125

timpaul opened this issue Mar 5, 2018 · 1 comment

Additional information #125

timpaul opened this issue Mar 5, 2018 · 1 comment


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@timpaul timpaul commented Mar 5, 2018


Help users provide additional information that might support an application or other transaction.


This is a fairly common pattern in government services, and is often misused, so we need to provide guidance around it.

@timpaul timpaul created this issue from a note in GOV.UK Design System Community Backlog (Proposed) Mar 5, 2018
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@timpaul timpaul commented Jan 7, 2019

The Design System team moved the following content from Dropbox Paper as part of an exercise to

  • migrate relevant, useful content into the Design System itself
  • record important research findings in the community backlog
  • remove the original Dropbox Paper page

Draft guidance


Sometimes users want to give additional information, on top of the information that you have obtained with your questions.

Provide users with a way of giving any additional information which might be useful.
Typically this is using a text box or document upload. See Text fields for more info.

When to use this pattern

Use with caution

Used appropriately this can be a really useful way of getting extra information from users. However, it shouldn't be used as a replacement for a well designed form. It's best reserved for specific questions which may have complex or unpredictable answers. Don't just add one at the end of your transaction for 'anything else'.

How it works

Set expectations

If you give people an opportunity to tell you their circumstances in detail then they'll take it. You should make it clear what will be done with the information. In particular you should clarify how the information may or may not affect the outcome of their goals, so they don't spend a lot of time telling you things for no reason.

Give examples

A single white box for typing into can be intimidating. Help users by giving them examples of the kind of things you'd like them to tell you. Test carefully though to make sure that the examples aren't biasing the responses you get.


Queen's Awards for Enterprise application form

The Queen's Awards for Enterprise application form has lots of questions like this.
For example: '[Give] a brief history of the origin and development of the innovation.'


  • Reporting a crime - users are asked to give as much information as they have, but it's all optional.
  • apprenticeships 'post a vacancy' form for employers (asks you to describe what type of candidate you're looking for etc)
  • UCAS personal statement
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