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Transitioning to an International form

Need examples of websites.



4:40 am on Dec 7, 2001 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

On our site, we have a form that currently targets the United States. We have a text box for City and a dropdown list for State.

We are revamping our site and we want to make our form international-compatible. With that said, what are the input boxes that we are going to need? Can we keep City? Is State changed to something else? Is there anyway that if they designate from the U.S. we can refresh the form to provide them with a City/State combination? If the select themselves as an international company, they are then provided something else?

Can anyone lend any assistance to this? Anyone know of any sites that uses forms to collect info from across the word but uses two types of collection depending on whether the person is from the US or international?

I look forward to your reply and assistance.


8:45 am on Dec 7, 2001 (gmt 0)

For country it is best to use a combo box, which is a dropdown list with the option of typing in the country name. A combo box is used because there are so many different countries and you don't want visitors to waste time scrolling through the list to find there country.

You should include all the relevent text boxes that add value to your business needs...city, state, country, telephone, etc... BUT The first question you should ask is "where are the majority of my customers from." Lets say for example that most of your customers are from the United States, you would then make the default country in the country text box "United States" with all the states in the "States" text box. NOW, what if someone is from another country?? Then you can insert code that looks at which country the visitor has clicked on....it then takes the country name and dynamically inserts the corresponding state/province/territory in the "states" text box. This is one approach used by the major e-commerce sites.



9:51 am on Dec 7, 2001 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I am very glad that you are actually thinking about this seriously. There are so many sites that only allow US entries in the boxes, which is very annoying if you are from overseas.

The key is to ensure that the 'required' fields in your form are kept to a minimum. This is not only good practice for your localization plans but for the friendliness to your visitors. I am sure we are all sick of filling out so many forms!! If you must have all the information, then allow the user to input the text with no restriction as to format.

In most cases, you can leave the State field (perhaps "State/Province etc.") could be the description and it should be a free text box and clearly not a drop-down box of the US States. Good advice above re country box.

In the telephone number fields, you could have a single box but allow a + sign (not restricting to numeric characters only) or provide the three box approach (country code, area code, number) Again, do not make any of the boxes a required field (Hong Kong & Singapore, for example, do not have area codes)

Please get in touch via Sticky if you would require more info.



10:08 am on Dec 7, 2001 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

> 'required' fields in your form are kept to a minimum

Good advice. I tend to only 'require' an email address - and even then I only do a sanity check on it, give a warning if it's not valid, then let the submission through anyway if the customer insists the address is valid.

Why turn any potential customer away? 99% of the time they'll provide enough info for you to contact them somehow, and a lead is a lead after all...


11:14 pm on Dec 7, 2001 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks for the replies. I decided to check out Miscrosoft and see what they did. I went to their registration page for their Passport service - and I think they hit the nail right on the head.

The default country value is United States. If the person decides to select another country, the page refreshes with the appropriate cities/provinces/locales etc. I think that is the best way to solve this.

I need to keep in mind that I want most of my choices to be in dropdown boxes (versus text boxes) because we need the ability to filter data. You just can't do that when people input their information because they may spell the name wrong, among other things.

Regarding collecting information, we do require minimal information. Things that we require are name, email address, city/province and country. The only optional piece of info is telephone number. (We do not collect mailing address)

Check out this link for what MS does:
[lc1.law5.hotmail.passport.com...] I think that is pretty cool.

My only concern regarding international expansion is the fact that these viewers don't all read English. Therefore, would I have to have to translate the submission form as well? For simplicty sake, it would be nice if my form just remained in English - would that be sufficient? Would I be eliminitaing alot of internet-savy countries?


12:28 am on Dec 9, 2001 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

MS is actually quite a bad example in terms of internationalization. Their forms are fine but what they have forgotten to realize is that many non-US visitors do not have a broadband or dedicated T1 connection to the internet. Excessive use of flash, large images and large scripts with short time-out sessions will turn away international visitors.

On the language side, there has been a lot of debate in the country forums concerning language. It largely depends on how serious you are about 'foreign' traffic and visitors. There is a huge non-English speaking population on the internet and growing daily. If you really want to aim for them - translate, if not then don't.



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