This is my first post here. I was going to ask in meta if it's appropriate, but I need 5 posts before doing that. So I'll just ask and hope it's on-topic enough.

I am designing a search form that has location as one of primary search criteria. Please allow me to pretend for now the user is searching for EV charging stations.

Requirements; The user has to be able to select from a range of location types, eg;

  1. whole world
  2. country groups (eg EU, UK, North America)
  3. country (USA)
  4. state group (Midwest)
  5. state (Iowa)
  6. city group (Rome and Vatican City)
  7. city (Rome)
  8. suburb (Beverly Hills) [Forgive the jumping around all over the world]

The search results aren't necessarily on a map. Importantly, they might be shown in a list. So this is not just a case of showing them on a map and letting the use zoom in.

Users might want a list of all EV stations in the world, or in the EU, or in a specific country, or in a group of states, or in a multiple cities who are often grouped for ease.

There are three main designs I've considered;

  1. map
  2. multi-step form
  3. textbox filter

Map (to select location, not to display results) Works ok, but it's not the best for groups. Europe has a plethora of country groups, eg EU, UK, British Isles, Scandinavia, Baltic. So many, with lots of overlapping boundaries ie a country belonging to multiple groups. Selecting the wanted country group, or even multiple countries, can be tricky.

Multi-step form 7 dropdown options in the order above, 2-8 (whole world would be first entry in country group). If they pick UK as their country group, the country dropdown would fill with the now appropriate list of countries (eg All countries, England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Island). If they picked England, the list of State Groups would fill (eg All States, East Midlands etc)[Counties]. Eventually they'd decide they'd "zoomed in" enough, and run the search. High precision, but lots of steps.

Textbox filter A single textfield. As they type it filters the list, which contains all of the above. eg they type "lon" the list might filter down to this; Longal (Country, made up) London (City, England) Londonderry (Suburb, Australia/NSW) They'd obviously then find the one they want, select, and search. The problem is this list has ~200k entries. And thanks to history there are a LOT of double-ups ie places all round the world with the same name. There are 88 Washingtons in the USA alone.

I do intent to create all 3 for testing and feedback.

Mainly wondering if you had any feedback or experience in doing something like this. Or know of a solution to this out there that I can see for myself.

  • 1
    Hi, I think your question is appropriate for UX StackExchange. Can you share what you know about who is using this application, what their scenarios are like, and what they're trying to accomplish? E.g., are they out on the road with their mobile device and no wifi looking to charge their car?
    – Izquierdo
    Commented Apr 18, 2022 at 13:40
  • Can you also post screenshots of your efforts? It adds a lot more value to show rather than just tell.
    – Mike M
    Commented Apr 18, 2022 at 14:09

2 Answers 2


I would say that some combination of the three options you listed there will give you the best results, if as suggested that each one has a good use case and some disadvantage compared to the others.

Google Maps uses a combination of contextual suggestions in its free text search field, a map interface, some categories and filters to help come up with the search results to accommodate a range of use cases.

Hopefully it will come out in your user testing that there are some typical use cases, but it is not uncommon to find that you'll need a combination of input and output on your interface for more tricky scenariosl.


Might I suggest the possibilty that we are overthinking this one out.

  1. Dropdown: (Whole world, country groups, country)

Options look like

N. Amr
S. Amr
Aus & NZ


  1. Dropdown: State group / State

  2. Dropdown: City group / city

  3. Text Filter: Use text box with a filtering table for suburbs {spellings of suburbs may be spelled differently and those address lines might be long so for that use a table that is filtered while user types suburbs. (Truncated text in Dropdown is bad UX, a very long DD is bad UX.)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.