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I'm building a classifieds website for my client and I'm confused as to what's the best way to show cities to the users of the website.

Do people find a city map with selectable areas more valuable, easy and worthwile:

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than a autocomplete cities input?

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or the way around? if possible can you explain why?

If they already know the address what's the added value in showing the map as well after they type it? If they don't how would showing a map location where you can further narrow down help searching for an apartment or item?

Usually when you browse a classifieds website like craigslist you search it in your city (suppose it's NY) or don't bother searching for it 5 km from Newark, isn't it?

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    I think the question probably should be focused on which type of interface is more suitable to a particular type of behaviour. It seems like someone browsing based on geographical position would find a map more useful, whereas an autocomplete cities input might suit someone who is searching based on keywords or text similarity. – Michael Lai Mar 10 '15 at 22:51
  • @MichaelLai Uh, how do I explain.. the classifieds ads website would show rental apartments but it will also show other stuff such as smartphones and so on..an user could be searching for something either locally or countrywide. That's why I was asking if users would be more comfortable with an interactive map or autocomplete and if building an interactive map is worth the effort. – Rock Feller Mar 11 '15 at 10:15
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    Why is it an either:or choice? Google maps allows the user to do both. – JonW Mar 11 '15 at 11:06
  • What JonW said: Is there a particular reason that it has to be either/or? I'd think that something like Google Maps (which includes both types of interaction) would be the most beneficial as it's a familiar pattern and provides multiple paths for content discovery. – Brian Mar 11 '15 at 13:35
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There is two scenarios:

Is this the address that they know?

  • The best solution is to give them the text area then they can type the first characters and the rest of story...
  • In order to confirm the accuracy of the entered address, you can also give show them a dropped pin in a map view as well (maybe in a next step)
  • Then they should be able to edit the text and again see the dropped pin

Is this the address that they don't know about?

  • An example can be branches of your firm, several restaurants, shopping centers around you or in your town...
  • In this case the good solution is to start from the visual map, narrow down the option and have the text area next to that, in case if they wanted to find the direction, or understand the distance with a location that they know.
  • It is good to show them the address in the text area once they selected a specific location and make these actions synced.
  • If they already know the address what's the added value in showing the map as well after they type it? If they don't how would showing a map location where you can further narrow down help searching for an apartment or item? Usually when you browse a classifieds website like craigslist you search it in your city (suppose it's NY) or don't bother searching for it 5 km from Newark, isn't it? – Rock Feller Mar 13 '15 at 18:29
  • Showing the map in that case as I said can be an optional step, this is a good scenario in case if you want to show offered stuff in next steps, so let them first do what they know (which is their home address), then in the next step, show their address in the map, and also show them offers around them. In a nutshell, I mean if they should start from the address that they know, it is not a good user experience to start that from a map, or even giving that as an option in the beginning is kinda tricky, they may waste their time working on the map. – aliesifar Mar 13 '15 at 19:40
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I've found that people that are well versed at using a map will like the map, however, that isn't many people. So generally, I find autocomplete to be better for the general public than a map.

  • Welcome to the site. Can you provide any evidence? At the moment, this post comes across as just your opinion. – Graham Herrli Jan 8 '16 at 19:24

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