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Patterns

Form patterns

Common form structures and designs used on VA.gov

Applicant information

This is the current implementation of applicant information on our forms.

The application information section consists of:

  • Name
  • Important numbers: Social security number & VA file number
  • Birth information
  • Gender
  • Race, ethnicity, or origin

Note: These fields are not on every form. Work with your stakeholders to determine what fields are necessary for your application.

Name

Follow this pattern whenever you need to ask for a user’s name for an application.

applicant information name template

Usability guidance:

  • Make sure name fields work for most veterans. Fields must be long enough to accommodate the names of your users. Do not restrict the types of characters users can enter in any of these fields. Names can include characters outside the standard Roman alphabet.
  • First name and last name are required fields. Middle name and suffix fields are optional. Mother’s maiden name field is not on every form.

Important numbers: Social security number & VA file number

Follow this pattern whenever you need to ask for a social security number or VA file number.

applicant information important numbers template

Usability guidance:

  • Use a single text input for social security and VA file number. labelled ‘Social Security number’. Do not use abbreviations, such as SSN.
  • VA file numbers are not on every form. If the form asks for a Social Security number and VA file number make sure to note in the VA file number helper text, “must have this or a Social Security number.”

Note: The Social Security number pattern is going to be iterated on in the future, specifically masking the numbers for privacy purposes.

Birth information:

Follow this pattern whenever you need to ask for a user’s date and place of birth.

applicant information birth information template

Usability guidance:

  • Use the date input field for date of birth. Writing out the label for each birth date string and separating them into three fields instead of one eliminates the format confusion.
  • Place of birth information is one text input. This format is easier to fill out for both veterans born outside the United States and for veterans who were born United States citizens.

Gender:

Follow this pattern whenever you need to ask veterans their gender.

applicant information gender template

Usability guidance:

  • Don’t ask if it does not benefit the user experience. You should only ask users about gender when absolutely necessary.
  • Use checkboxes. Give veterans the ability to check more than one gender they could identify with.

Note: Many forms are based off of paper forms with limited fields for gender. Work with your stakeholder and see if you can expand the fields.

Race, ethnicity, or origin:

Follow this pattern whenever you need to ask veterans for their race, ethnicity, or origin.

applicant information race template

Usability guidance:

  • Don’t ask if it does not benefit the user experience. Only collect users’ information on this topic if you are going to use the data.
  • Give users the option of picking more than one ethnic group. Always use checkboxes so that users can identify with multiple ethnicities.

Contact information

This is the current implementation of applicant information on our forms.

The contact information section consists of:

  • Addresses
  • Email address
  • Phone numbers
  • Preferred method of contact (if applicable)

Addresses

Follow these patterns whenever you need to ask for a user’s address.

Single address

Here is the content structure for asking a user for a single address:

  • Checkbox for military address (if applicable)
  • Additional info component (if applicable)
  • Country select box
  • Street address text input
  • Street address line 2 text input
  • Street address line 3 text input (if applicable)
  • City text input
  • State/Province/Region select box
  • Postal code text input

contact information single address template

Usability guidance:

  • If required, include a checkbox for United States military base address. Under the additional information component, there should be an explanation: U.S. military bases are considered a domestic address and a part of the United States. When the checkbox is checked, the country select box becomes disabled.
  • If asking for only one address on a form, be clear with the user which address (mailing or home) you’re asking for. We recommend asking for a mailing address if you need to only ask for one address.
  • Street address Line 3 can be omitted. Sometimes partner databases do not support a third line of address.

Multiple addresses: Mailing and Home addresses

Follow this pattern when asking for both mailing and home addresses. In some forms, we ask for both addresses because some veterans live in different homes depending on the time of year.

Here is the content structure for asking a user for multiple addresses:

  • Header - Mailing or Home Address
  • Relevant information regarding this form and the user’s address (if applicable)
  • Checkbox for military address (if applicable)
  • Additional info component (if applicable)
  • Country select box
  • Street address text input
  • Street address line 2 text input
  • Street address line 3 text input (if applicable)
  • City text input
  • State/Province/Region select box
  • Postal code text input
  • Radio button component for mailing address same as home address (this is on mailing address page only)

Mailing address

contact information mailing address template

Home address

contact information home address template

Usability guidance:

  • Add guidance on where users can go to edit their account information on all VA accounts. Let the user know that when filling out contact information, they will have to edit their profile information. An example message is: Any updates you make here to your contact information will only apply to this application. To update your contact information for all of your VA accounts, go to your profile page (link to profile).
  • The mailing address always comes before home address. We ask for a mailing address before home address because the majority of VA’s correspondence is over mail.
  • On the mailing address form, ask users if the home address is the same as the mailing address. If the user chooses “Yes”, they can skip the home address form.

Email address

Follow this pattern when you want to ask for an email address. contact information email address template

Usability guidance:

  • If possible, tell users why you want their email address. Users need to know that the VA won’t abuse their email and which email they’d like to provide. An example message is: Please enter your contact information so we can get in touch with you if we have questions about your application.
  • Validate email addresses. You should validate email addresses so you can let users know if they have entered one incorrectly. A validation message for when a user forgets the “@”: Please enter a valid email address. A validation message for when a user doesn’t use the same email in the “Confirm email address” field: This email doesn’t match the one you entered above.

Phone numbers

Follow this pattern when you want to ask for a phone number.
contact information phone number template

Usability guidance:

  • If possible, tell users why you want their phone number. An example message is: Please enter your contact information so we can get in touch with you if we have questions about your application. This message can be at the top of the page if asking for any other contact information.
  • Validate phone numbers. Users must provide at least a 10 digit phone number with or without dashes. Example of acceptable formats: 703-123-4567, 7031234567, 1+703-123-4567. A validation message for when a user forgets to enter the phone number: Please enter your phone number. A validation message for when a user’s phone number is too short: This field should be at least 10 character(s).
  • If a user chooses a home or mobile phone number as their method of contact, phone numbers are required fields. If a user chooses email or mail as their preferred method then a phone number field won’t be validated. (Note: Method of contact field is form dependent)
  • “Mobile phone number” is a required field if the user checks (I would like to receive text messages from VA about my [ ] benefits). An example of this is on the VA Form 22-10203 (Application for Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship)
  • Do not use primary or secondary phone numbers as field labels. Home and mobile phone numbers are more plain language-focused.

Method of contact

Follow this pattern when you want to ask a user how they’d like to be contacted. contact information method of contact template

Usability guidance:

  • This field is dependent on the form. Method of contact is form-dependent. Work with your stakeholders on whether your form needs a method of contact.
  • Give users the opportunity to pick one method of contact. Provide contact information methods in radio button list form.

Dates

When to use this pattern

Follow this pattern whenever you need users to provide a date on a form.

Dates you may need users to provide include:

  • Dates a user knows, like a date of birth or marriage
  • Dates a user can approximate , like February 2021
  • Date ranges, like service history dates

Dates a user knows:

Use the month/day/year date input component for most dates, particularly memorized dates.

date input for memorized dates: month day and year

Dates a User Can Approximate:

Use the month/year date input component for dates that a user may struggle to remember. For example: When did you receive your high school diploma or equivalency certificate?

date input for approximate dates: month and year

Date ranges:

Use month/day/year inputs or month/year inputs depending on the question being asked. For example: Service history dates

date ranges: service start date and service end date

Usability guidance:

  • Write clear form labels for date ranges Do not use “From” and “To” to when labeling form labels for date ranges. Make it clear what dates you’re asking for. Example: “Obligation start date” and “Obligation end date”
  • Spell out full month names in the selected state The month select box should have the full month’s name. Example: January
  • Validate date inputs. You should validate date inputs so you can let users know if they have entered one incorrectly. A general validation message for an incorrect date: Please enter a valid date

Direct deposit form

Input state

Direct deposit input state

When to use this pattern

Apply this pattern when Veterans are asked to provide banking information to receive funds electronically.

Direct deposit card name

Under the form name and chapter title, begin the card with a heading level 3 of “Direct deposit information”

Card description

Under the card name have a short description on how VA only accepts direct deposit and what their direct deposit information is going to be used for.

Example: We make payments only through direct deposit, also called electronic funds transfer (EFT).

Check image

The check image provides a guide for Veterans to find their account and routing numbers from a check when filling out direct deposit information.

Form controls

Account type

Present the account type as a radio button group since the Veteran has only two options to choose from: checking and savings.

Bank name

The bank name text input isn’t required for all direct deposit patterns and developers have the option of not including this text input.

Bank routing number

The bank routing number text input is required for this form pattern. The routing number must be 9 digits.

Bank account number

The bank account number text input is required for this form pattern. The maximum bank account number length is 17 digits.

“I don’t want to use direct deposit” checkbox

Direct deposit checkbox

Underneath the direct deposit input card, give the Veteran the option to not give their direct deposit information. When the checkbox is checked, the direct deposit input card above will disappear.

More information

Let Veterans know how this direct deposit information is going to apply their other benefits.

Example: Note: Any updates you make here will change your bank account information for some VA benefits, including [add affected benefits]. These updates won’t change your bank account information for [add non-affected benefits].

Additional info component

Provide more information if Veterans do not have a bank account.

Example of additional information that can be displayed:

What if I don’t have a bank account?

The Veterans Benefits Banking Program (VBBP) provides a list of Veteran-friendly banks and credit unions. They’ll work with you to set up an account, or help you qualify for an account, so you can use direct deposit. To get started, call one of the participating banks or credit unions listed on the VBBP website. Be sure to mention the Veterans Benefits Banking Program. Note: The Department of the Treasury requires us to make electronic payments. If you don’t want to use direct deposit, you’ll need to call the Department of the Treasury at 888-224-2950. Ask to talk with a representative who handles waiver requests. They can answer any questions or concerns you may have.

Live application examples:

VA Form 22-10203 (Application for Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship)

Review state

Direct deposit review state

When to use this pattern

Follow this pattern to provide Veterans with the ability to change their bank account information. This direct deposit information is pre-populated because the veteran already filled these bank details beforehand.

Bank account information card

The direct deposit information will live in the bank account information card. The card will have a short description on what the information below means, “This is the bank account information we have on file for you. This is where we’ll send your payments.” Under the description, the information will be displayed in the component similar to the address block component. Mask the routing and account number but leave the 4 last digits. This masking is for security purposes. This information is uneditable until the user clicks the call to action button below.

Call to action

When the “update account information” button is clicked, the bank account information card will turn into an interactive card in which the review state will revert back into the input state.