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-- Accessibility and Usability
---- Long form vs small form - user perception
lammert - 11:26 am on Apr 4, 2008 (gmt 0)email addresstelephone numbermobile numberfax numberpostal address
I have stopped counting the number of US based websites that pretend to target an international audience but at the same time require foreign visitors to select one of the 50 US states when entering an address. I have no problems with the field itself, but with the developers that make it mandatory.
20 fields or more is not bad, when most of them are optional. The main overlooked problem with developers making forms, is that they forget that not all visitors need to enter the same information and that a lot of fields which may look different actual contain equivalent information. Only those fields that are necessary for a proper automated processing of the form should be mandatory.
The "better" US site developers automatically change the state selection box with a mandatory province box for foreigners. Hey US developers, that your postal system and tax processing logic can't work well if the state isn't known doesn't mean that you should copy that behaviour to other countries.
In the Netherlands the postal code and house number make a unique combination and there are databases available which translate postal code and house number combinations to a complete address including street number and place. This may not be available in other countries, but if it is, try to use it to reduce the number of fields someone has to fill.If someone needs to enter contact information to contact him in case there is a need for, but where there is no crucial need to know this information to proceed with the form processing, the developer should make the form in such a way that one of the following items should be enough:
Community services which require subscriptions like forums should initially allow people to enter only a few necessary fields like username and password. Once the user becomes an active part of the community, he will automatically extend his profile and personal settings.
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