I'm working on a project at the moment using an OOTB (out of the box) solution. We have an address search facility where a user will enter their postcode, click 'Search', and is then presented with a list of addresses. The developer has chosen to display the options as a series of radio buttons. I have suggested it would be far better to use a drop down list as that is the de facto way of doing it as far as I'm concerned.

The main issue is the number of radio buttons likely to be presented: My postcode returns 33 addresses, which means 33 radio buttons on a screen.

To change to radio buttons will incur a cost for the project now, so I need to decide whether I should pursue this further or not.

What do you guys think?

  • 1
    What the bleep is an OOTB solution? Please don't use abbreviations that may be unknown to a large number of people. Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 14:42
  • I believe OOTB is an acronym for "out of the box".
    – Matt
    Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 15:46

4 Answers 4


As you've already identified the radio button approach will get unwieldy when there are a large number of possible addresses. It will become increasingly difficult for the user to scan and locate their address. It will also take up a variable amount of space on the screen.

A drop down will occupy the same amount of space on the screen regardless of how many addresses there actually are. The drawback of a drop down is that only one address is shown which might confuse the novice user.

Perhaps a better alternative would be a fixed height list box. This has the advantage of showing several addresses (all of them if there are only a few). It also means that you can have more control over the format of your addresses (splitting them over several lines for example) which makes them more readable and gives you control over the width of the list box as well as the height.

  • 2
    Completely agree with the fixed height list box option. Far easier to navigate around within that type of control than it is within a dropdown. Plus it means the addresses can wrap over several lines. With a dropdown if you have a really long address it will push the width of the dropdown out really wide, which is particularly unwieldy.
    – JonW
    Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 9:46
  • Excellent, thank you for these. I'm new to the field so this has been a big help. Will there be any accessibility concerns with regarding to using a fixed height list box? I.e. would potentially having two scroll bars (one within the page and one within the list box) cause any accessibility issues?
    – simon
    Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 10:11
  • @simon It shouldn't have any accessibility issues as you should be able to navigate the list using the arrow keys.
    – ChrisF
    Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 10:16

We've recently started using this pretty funky address lookup tool from Postcode Anywhere. Haven't heard of them before, but they seem pretty established. The list of addresses is presented in list format and updates after each character is typed. http://www.postcodeanywhere.co.uk/demos/postal-code-address-validation.aspx

  • This appears only to work for the US. Certainly, postcode>address matching for the UK is rather expensive. Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 10:26
  • It does work for UK addresses, but it's horribly inaccessible unfortunately (keyboard navigation within it is clunky - it doesn't scroll the list view when you start using the arrow keys for example). Also there is no fallback if you don't have script enabled - it just doesn't work. Also the autocomplete only fills with 8 items even if there are plenty more (until you finish typing the full postcode).
    – JonW
    Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 10:36
  • Ah. Perhaps it's using my US-based IP address to limit the choices it displays. Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 10:47
  • But as JonW said, it works for UK addresses... and international ones too in fact. If you click in the field to start typing (and then select country flag in the drop down). Scrolling with the arrow keys works for me and then press Enter to select address. Although in testing, most users just type the address until only a few options remain then select with a mouse click. Any address lookup service needs to have a fall back. We're going to be integrating Capture+ in to multiple address fields so at least manual input will be available if the service were to go down. Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 13:56

Based on a great talk by Alice Bartlett at GDS we have been creating alternative UIs for address/postcode lookup, which don't use the select tags.

We landed on a list of radio boxes with the address summary as the label, these are then contained in a scrollable fixed height div, as shown below. The header to the box also allow collapses the list, mainly for mobile devices where the list could take up most of the viewport.

The GDS also have a page on their design patterns wiki about this.

Example of radio list alternative to select tag


Is this in the UK I take it? Becasue the only bit that changes, generally, is the number or property name- so you could fill in everything you can and leave the number/name to the user. It might actually be quicker than scrolling through a massive list to find your house. Those lists can get massive when you get 1 postcode for a road and that road is in turn full of apartment buildings!

  • Hi, yes it is in the UK. There is the option for a user to enter their house number and I expect this will be used most of the most time be honest which will ensure this is rarely an issue. Obviously still want to get it right as well though.
    – simon
    Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 10:29
  • Sadly this isn't the case, there are a few postcodes that cover more than one street. Also ones that contain a mix of dependant streets off of the main street. So you could end up causing problems for some of your users. Commented Aug 15, 2016 at 8:35

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