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Inspired by the US equivalent here

For UK address forms, I am struggling to find good enough reasons to keep a 'county' field, especially as my projects delivery options are not location determined. To me its just one more field to input in when you already have a postcode. If anyone has a good answer for it that would be greatly appreciated.

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    That's totally going to depend on your business requirements really. There's no way we can say Yes or No to this without knowing your business. The same with fields like "Gender" - some situations benefit from it, others it's unnecessary. But it depends on the situation. – JonW Jan 25 '16 at 11:37
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There is no reason to add a field into a form if you dont really need that information. In e-commerce the average abandonment rate is near at 70% (contact form could have some analogies).

In each guidelines for form designing, one of the main suggestions is ever to make the form as simply as possible, avoiding all unnecessary requests.

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In 2010, the Post Office stopped the requirement for including County in a postal address so it is indeed not necessary to keep it for the purposes of 'a complete address'.

Currently on the Post Office help system, the answer to the question Should I use a county name in my address? is:

When you address your mail, you don’t need to include a county name - your letters and parcels will reach your intended recipient without one. If, however, you’d prefer to include a county name, you are welcome to do so.

Having said that, not everyone knows this, and many users may prefer to include it in order to increase their own confidence in the address they are providing - especially when they know there are multiple towns of the same name. Yes the postcode is the key differentiator, but still people like completeness and there's nothing wrong with providing a little extra information if users feel it's an important part of their details and if they feel some delivery of an important item is at stake.

For this reason it may be desirable to allow users to enter the County, but not to make it a required option, and for the underlying system not to enter the detail into the database.

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  • "For this reason it may be desirable to allow users to enter the County, but not to make it a required option, and for the underlying system not to enter the detail into the database." - I don't agree. If I entered an address including county on something that was then posted to that address, I would wonder why the address I included wasn't the one it was posted to. I think the address should be validated, but I don't think you can just disregard things that users can input, purely because it's not needed. – Joe Jan 25 '16 at 13:17
  • It's an odd situation isn't it! Users should be able to enter the County if they want to, but not if they don't. The business doesn't use the county because they don't need to. But the two contexts can be connected in a loop back to the user (via a delivered envelope), so it seems they ought to match. That suggests all parts of the loop either ignore or use the County. Since County is redundant, then that suggests we should ignore - but then we come back to managing user expectations. Redundancy for the sake of expectations? User expectation wins imho, so perhaps yes, system should use it. – Roger Attrill Jan 25 '16 at 16:20
  • Users should never be asked to provide more information than is necessary. – Eric Stoltz Jan 26 '16 at 1:00
  • @EricStoltz Yes that is a general principle to bear in mind, but never say never. What if it's a detail that the user wants to be able to provide (because they believe it is an important part of their address) but can't because the business doesn't technically need it. – Roger Attrill Jan 26 '16 at 13:04
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    @EricStoltz The thing is, that county is not just another field. For a great many people in the United Kingdom, the county is personal - a part of their upbringing. Yorkshire born and bred. People are proud of their county - it's part of their identity. So, yes some people really do want to include this as part of their address even though it's an extra field (but remember I said it should be optional). Automating the display of the county might confuse further since postcode always comes at the end of an address and people may have already included the county. – Roger Attrill Jan 26 '16 at 18:00

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