Best pattern for international address forms?
I've noticed an emerging pattern in web-based forms is to put the country field before city/state. This is contrary to how we would normally fill out an address on paper, but it allows us to have dynamic form labels and dropdowns.
What are your thoughts? Is this a pattern worth embracing?
Good question. Just a comment - In Ireland there is no 'ZIP / Postal Code'. I've been on many sites where 'ZIP / Postal Code' is a required field.
Wow, I didn't know that. I suppose conditionally required fields should be dynamic too. If you forget to enter your zip in the US, you won't be getting your package :)
Great idea - I love the notion of providing per-country address forms and save users from having to put up with a convention that does not apply to them.
I agree that it's somewhat uncommon to have the country field that early in an address form - but what about asking the user which country they're from before even starting the address form interaction, i.e. in a separate context? It doesn't need to be a separate page though, just make sure that this field comes before the actual form and is not perceived as part of the form.
One way that springs to mind would be to pose it as a friendly question - use it as an extra opportunity to bond with your customer :-)
BTW: bonus points for providing sensible default values which could be derived from a IP location service or other information from previous interactions, or simply have the five most used countries duplicated (!) to the top of the drop-down list. As a German presented with such a list, I often have to press "G" repeatedly to skip over countries like Gabon or Georgia, and I always wonder how many customers for this particular company come from those places as opposed to Germany...
Another great way to speed up things and wow the customer would be to automatically predict the town or city from the ZIP code (if present). If it's ambiguous, provide a list of choices and also allow free-text input if nothing fits the bill.
Thanks for all the great ideas. For longer processes like e-commerce checkout, country selection might work in the first step (or just a separate section), perhaps with a few fields for other basic information. Country might also affect phone number fields (and others), so that seems like a good idea.
One problem with a per contry form is that it might be quite a bit of work. So far US, Canada, and Ireland all seems to handle it in different ways. And I could add Sweden and Netherlands to that. I could see that it quickly would grow out of hand.
I really appreciate dropdowns that show the most likely Countries at the top - for the same reasons as Jan. Additionally it also helps with another annoying issue: I frequently type "G", only to find out that Germany is listed under D (Deutschland) - and, of course, the other way around. A list at the top saves me from guessing or checking whether the list is all-English or native countries names.