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We are currently re-designing a profile portion for user signup to our Saas, and was looking for some insight into best practices for ordering location information.

Right now our currently ordering metric is: - Address (Free Text Field) - City (Free Text Field) - Country (Drop down) - State/Province (Drop down - population of this is dependant upon Country selection).

This flow does not feel natural to me, however the country must come before state in order to populate the appropriate states.

Guidance and thoughts much appreciated!

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If you are going to start with broad scope to narrow, then a consistent follow through would be:

  • Country
  • State
  • City

Typical address forms mimic the order of how an address appears on mail:

  • Address 1
  • Address 2
  • City
  • State
  • zip

To accomplish a natural address form as seen above and still accommodate your Country propagating the States functionality, you could break it up into two forms and gather the Country first followed by a regular form that uses the previous Country selection to propagate the States.

  • Form 1:
    • Country
  • Form 2:
    • Address 1
    • Address 2
    • City
    • State
    • zip
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  • Thanks for the insight! we are going to go with your final suggestion as this would best accommodate the UI. – IronBasset May 8 '14 at 15:38
  • No problem =) Im glad I could help – im_brian_d May 8 '14 at 15:54
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In my experience, well, it depends. in some cases the process may be improved significantly by using country + zip first. Zip codes are useful for actually extracting most of the address fields, if you dev team has access to publicly available services. This is even more powerful in some cases like the UK where Zip can sometimes even distinguish up to a building level. If you use Zip you should order the fields in the order of hierarchy as mentioned before, to help users read them and make sure they didn't make a mistake in typing and to fill in missing pieces like street No., floor, apt

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Maybe you can autofill some inputs based on input. I don't know how hard this will be considering you'll have to have data on multiple countries.

But to me it seems you might be able to autofill country and state/province based on the address and city assuming the combination of the latter is unique.

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initial answerPaul, the auto-fill is exactly the reason behind this ordering logic. The address services (available with APIs developers can use) allow the system to do the following:

  1. auto fill other fields in the address (to improve efficiency of user input)
  2. to validate with the user that the input was correct - to improve the tolerance

This is a technical capability, and it needs to know the country and the zip code combination in order for it to work. Some examples: UK doesn't have a ZIP code, it has a postal-code, which is actually significantly different in both format (contains letters and digits, as opposed to just digits in ZIP) and is often much more granular (at times, refers to a building level)

to summarize, you need the user to select the country first, and the dynamically show the correct label and validation format, after which the system will be able to auto-fill and validate the rest of the address details.

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  • Hi Erez, love your answers. I would suggest that you merge the two answers (edit link at the end of the answer) into one. It will be easier for the OP to select an answer as best answer this way. – Nash Dec 29 '20 at 7:58

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