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I am currently designing a form for my company to handle a payment intent for licensing the commercial use of our products. During my research on how we would present a proper and easy form to the user, it came to mind that when it comes to state/province and country fields, there are plain text solutions alongside dropdown select variants that change dynamically based on the selection. It is very attractive to me to use the dropdown because of the ease to look it up - and mostly because this is a widely adopted solution, but I can't seem to think of a suitable rationale as to what the dropdown solves functionally in favor of the text field.

So the question is more or less: what does a country/state dropdown solve when compared to a plain text input field for country or state? It seems like a lot of technical difficulties to use a dropdown while I can also blindly trust the user to know how they type their city/state of origin. I do not want to think 'users are stupid' as a lot of UX people tend to use that analogy to over-design their solutions. So I'm wondering if there is more to it than just a typo-proof solution.

Thanks in advance, I hope the question is clear :)

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I would suggest using a hybrid of the two where the user can both type or use a dropdown to select state / country.

The benefit of having a dropdown vs. the text input box is that the user doesn't have to type the exact text which can be harder for the user for states with long names (like Pennsylvania). Another benefit is error checking. If you went with the text option and the user typed the text incorrectly, then you would have to do some kind of validation check either inline or when the user selected the "submit" button which would also get annoying to the user.

If you do a hybrid, then the user can type the first letter of the state or country and then make the correct selection and narrow the number of results for the user.

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    Thank you for the insights, I'm going to keep it simple at first and validate the input with a text field. if it seems problematic for our users I'll use the dropdown solution as a possible fix. – Automagisch Apr 22 at 16:54

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