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I'm working on a site for a home builder who operates a number of franchises throughout the U.S. Because of local zoning laws, etc., a single floor plan will have a different price and be built to different codes depending on where it's built.

What's the best way to handle this? I thought about having a cookied modal window that has the user select the zipcode where they plan to build. Then all the pricing and details for the floorplans would be keyed off that zipcode.

The problem is that some people might not know where they're building yet and might just want to browse without entering the zipcode. I could have a button on the modal form that says "no thanks, I just want to browse right now", but the default pricing and details probably wouldn't be accurate if they're just set to an arbitrary default.

Also, if a person decides to build in another zipcode sometime in the future, they'd have to reset the cookie. I suppose I'd have to have a status bar somewhere that would tell them the zipcode they're using and allow them to change it if they'd like.

Those are my thoughts at the moment. Is there a better way to provide users with the correct pricing and feature details based on the location where they want to build their home?

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is ur question pertaining to cookies or UX? –  sree Jun 12 '12 at 17:30
    
UX mostly. thanks. –  jp_d Jun 12 '12 at 18:12
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3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I would suggest showing average prices by default with an explanation that entering a zip code can customize/update the prices for their locale.

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

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Yes if average or approximate price is available this is a better solution. –  Max Jun 12 '12 at 21:38
    
A price range (min/max) 200-300 with an explanation why could also work. –  Barfieldmv Jun 13 '12 at 11:40
    
Giving an estimate, and explaining why this might change is a good idea. Then allowing users to select a location if they want a specific price should keep everyone happy. –  Schroedingers Cat Jun 13 '12 at 15:59
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I never want to have a modal pop up immediately upon visiting a site. Why not just have a little quote widget on every floorplan page that outputs a price.

If you think the average customer is going to seek quotes for 10+ different floorplans you may want to think of remembering this setting across pages (with the ability to 'Change location').

This might be a nice way for the client to measure which customers are interested in which floorplans from which locations.

In addition, now you're not bothering customers with asking their location unless they are actually looking for prices.

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

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I like that. And you make a good point about not wanting to be greeted with a popup upon entering a site. The problem is that people like to sort and browse plans according to price, and hiding the price until they ask for a quote eliminates that. Maybe a combination of the two - a default price and a "get quote" button to get a more accurate price based on zip? –  jp_d Jun 12 '12 at 18:08
    
Not knowing about US planning laws, would the "base prices" serve to order by price - that is, are the local additions consistent? So the ordering still works, even though the price may be out? –  Schroedingers Cat Jun 13 '12 at 16:01
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Lets first assume you need the zip code to do any further interaction. Then:

  1. You could try guessing their zip code based on their IP address (not a UX issue)

  2. If no other way, try giving an auto close popup, something like Gmail's:

    Gmail's auto close dialog

It suggests to user you assume him to be from some part of USA and he could change by clicking some part of the popup, or ignore this popup as it will auto close.

Similar to how websites now don't ask you to log-in until they need it, see if you can hide the part of your website that shows zip code dependent data with a link to a pop up that takes zip code and then shows relevant data.

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"guessing their zip code based on their IP address (not a UX issue)" well, that is a UX issue. It could work--especially if you incorporate HTML5 location services. But be sure to make it easy to see that it can be changed, as people may not be shopping while at home and/or may be routed through out-of-state/country proxy servers (common while at work). –  DA01 Jun 13 '12 at 16:31
    
thanks didn't know that :) –  Raj Jun 18 '12 at 8:05
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