So i need to get the exact location of where a person was born.

Currently, I have two maps on a page and an input field. So you can basically use either one. Right now the top map is a view of the world so you can locate where you were born in the world, then a zoomed in map to get more precise for the second map.

I want to redo this form, as i kind of have to re-program it anyway. I was thinking of having an input box for the user to give the location of the place they were born at. This would use Google maps API and then once they input that information, select the proper selection if there are multiple results. Once they do that, then show a map of that location to make sure this what they intended. It doesn't need to be 100% accurate, but it has to be very close, i need to get longitude and latitude from this.

Do you think the new way would be more intuitive and easier for the user?

Is there any other way you can think of to get this information, making it easier for the user?


I just want to point out that this information isn't being asked for right away and it's some optional information to make full use of the website. Also, this information isn't for public view, it's really just to make some calculations and then spit out some additional information. But no one would know exactly where you were born. So, i just need to find the best way to get this information as at this point the user already should know this and they are the ones willing to give away this information.

  • 1
    Why on earth do you need this info? Your edit only says you won't give it to others, but doesn't clarify what you do with it. If that is the case on your site as well, you can bet your life I wouldn't give you that kind of information... Dec 27, 2011 at 12:34
  • @MarjanVenema You don't have to. I don't even know why you posted that comment. I don't understand why so many people on this website assume the worst is going happen when you don't understand whats going on. All i asked was input on the UI, I didn't ask for your opinion, i asked for a non-subjective answer.
    – Matt
    Dec 27, 2011 at 14:12
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    I know it is optional. I posted my comment because you are obviously interested in that information and I wanted to point out that you are unlikely to get it from anybody and the use of whatever you do with it will be limited, unless you provide more details about what you are doing with it. Dec 27, 2011 at 14:55
  • Re-reading your comment/question on my comment, I have to add this. Don't gripe about people "assuming the worst". Assuming the worst is in fact a very prudent practice when it comes to information that people could use to pose as you. Identity theft unfortunately is a real problem and not something that only happens in a police series like CSI. Knowing someone's place of birth just happens to be one of the many facts that make people think they are talking to that someone. Dec 27, 2011 at 18:04

3 Answers 3


This is a tough one. Requiring the exact position where a user was born is both difficult and spooky —you might as well ask for their blood type! But for the question's sake we will asume users will be ok with getting their birth certificates and checking the hospital where they were born.

I would build a form that would go from simple to complex depending on the information the user can provide:

  • First ask for the country, and then city. So far this should be pretty simple.
  • Provide an option list or an auto-completing search text field to find the hospital.
  • Allow for an extra option if the hospital is not listed or the user doesn't know (such as an Other options option or checkbox)
  • If the exact hospital couldn't be selected, then require the user to enter a street address or pin a map.

Bear in mind that requiring a user to input the exact location, both in postal address or pinning a map, of their place of birth could be a barrier for conversions or whatever the site is after. So exposing the user with a simple form at first, and then incrementally making it more complex and demanding, only if required, would take some friction out of the process.

Here is a mockup code as an example of the process.


  • Yea, it doesn't jump right into this question. This information is not required, but it is required to make full use of the website. This information is not even shown publicly and it's made pretty clear that, that's the case. What you are saying is basically what i am thinking. Basically, if you go to google maps and start typing a place, this is exactly what I am talking about, except for the fact the map would be shown after they selected the place.
    – Matt
    Dec 27, 2011 at 11:16
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    Why do you assume people are born in a hospital?
    – André
    May 16, 2013 at 11:12
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    or that the place they were born still exists?
    – jk.
    May 16, 2013 at 11:32
  • Furthermore if the person was born in a hospital this requires the OP to obtain, as a minimum, name and geolocation data of every hospital that's existed in, say, the last 70 years for every country that users might come from. Then, more importantly, keep that updated, which is not going to be easy.
    – Ben
    May 16, 2013 at 12:57

I'd seriously question whether you need a precise location or not. Knowing that someone was born in say "Paris, France" would most likely be enough for almost any use.

In addition most people don't know exactly where they were born, but do know the town / city level.

If town / city is enough detail for you, then simply ask for the country they were born in, and the city.

If you still need exact details, you should realise that:

  1. your data will never be accurate even for people that know exactly where they were born, as there is little information on how deep they should place a marker in the map GUI.

  2. You will get a much lower response rate from people as most don't know exactly (i.e. address) where they were born, and even for those that do, you are making them jump through hoops to show it on a map.

  3. Many people can't actually read maps. Do some user testing and you will likely come across this problem.
  • Yea town/city may be close enough, but with what I am using this data for, it may also be very far off. Like i said, it needs to be as accurate as possible. I don't need an address, but like the hospital they were born at would be fine, as long as it's close. In most situations it won't matter as much, but there will be some cases where it really does matter. That's why i was thinking of doing what you said, asking for city/town/hospital (any of these) and let google do the searching. Then plot a point on a map to make sure it's close to where they were born.
    – Matt
    Dec 27, 2011 at 10:42
  • @Matt Even hospital is pushing it a lot. Very few people will know the hospital that they were born in, and in many countries (The Netherlands for example) most people still give birth at home. It's not about what you would ideally like to have information wise. It is about a balance between giving you what you need (not want) and having a good UX for your customers.
    – JohnGB
    Dec 27, 2011 at 10:56
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    "Exact location" in the question made me think "room 503, $City Hospital", or, perhaps, "back seat of the car, somewhere on Route 1". I guess I could look up the name of the hospital where I was born if it were really really important, but I'm having trouble envisioning a non-government-mandated case where I would bother doing that. Dec 27, 2011 at 17:21

Go for a simple form. Google Maps could be to much effort for the user. But you could autopopulate the country field because the majority will live in the country they are born in. Then you could use an autocomplete function for the city field. That will speed up the process.

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