I am the UXD (I use this as loosely as possible) for an education startup company. I have a typeahead in my sign up form:

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This is the last entry in the sign up form. Underneath that (hidden right now) is the submit button. Now I'd like to let the kids have the option of typing a school of their own because their school might not be in the database yet. But I'm seeing a lot of duplicate schools in the database from manual typing as opposed to selecting the pertinent thing in the typeahead. How do I get them to just type their school?

Update: There are 200+ schools. If I convert this to a select tag, is that okay?

  • I'm confused by your question. Did you mean to ask 'how do I get them to select from the options'?
    – DA01
    Jan 10, 2014 at 2:56
  • @DA01, yes. I clicked on submit by the time I noticed the vague "use it" phrase Jan 10, 2014 at 3:02

1 Answer 1


1) Select box, with an "other" option, followed by an input field IF they selected "other".

2) Write some back-end code that merges values that are already there upon submit.

3) Alternatively, try something like the chosen jQuery plugin. It's a middle ground, that looks like a drop-down, but allows "searching".

The first option won't solve it entirely but at least it'll cut down on the number of duplicates because you ask them to select something from a list, with "other" meaning "something that's not on the list". This is as opposed to what you're currently doing, asking them to "write first".

Also note that most people (kids and the elderly especially) won't be able to blind-type, and thus will have their eyes fixed on the keyboard while typing, and perhaps even hit [return] (most often submitting the form) before even looking at the screen.

And please, do the world a favor, and don't put the submit button underneath the dropdown. They won't be able to click it if they go to "University of the South" instead of "University of the South West".

  • 1
    I'd also add that, for a lot of us, it's just easier/quicker to keep typing and ignore the look-ahead.
    – DA01
    Jan 10, 2014 at 2:57
  • Thank you Dirk :). I guess I was too enamoured with the typeahead because it Looked Cool. 100% spot on with people who are not blind-typists. I will integrate your suggestions on the next build. Jan 10, 2014 at 3:00
  • @DA01 would you use a typeahead in this situation or would you rather do the dropdown+ "other"? Jan 10, 2014 at 3:01
  • @DaryllSantos I suppose it depends on your objective. Is having duplicate (but slightly different) school names a problem? If so, then I think the dropdown+other is the way to go. If it's not a problem, then I don't know that you gain much with the look ahead. I'd just leave it as a regular text field.
    – DA01
    Jan 10, 2014 at 3:08
  • @DA01 Yes the duplicate school names are currently a problem because I have to clean up the schools in the database after, so we can create cleaner and more accurate site stats. So I guess we convert to dropdown + "others". My only concern is that maybe some students would think "oh my school is in the others so it must not be important enough", but maybe I'm overthinking at this point Jan 10, 2014 at 3:13

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