Voltage Creative

Web Development & Design | Online Marketing

Primary Information: UX Minification

As User Experience (UX) developers, it is our duty to make human-computer interaction as simple, efficient and clear as possible. Take this standard shopping cart checkout form for example:

It very clearly is inspired by the format we use to address mail for the US postal system. Familiar, yes, but it is not taking advantage of all our computers have to offer us. We have the ability to derive secondary inputs from primary inputs.

Primary information is human input or any information that can not be regenerated automatically

In this example, city and state can be derived automatically by a user’s zip code. All it takes is a free zip code database and a little effort.

Here’s that same input set, redesigned :

This format has many advantages:

  • Copying of duplicate values via a simple interface
  • Default values. Most companies have a country in which they do the majority of their business
  • Primary inputs are hierarchical and secondary inputs are dynamically filled.
  • Auto-populated fields (city and state) are still editable after the automation

The end result? The average user has to fill out 3 fields rather than 12.

Speeding up and simplifying this process increases conversions and makes our users happy. And that’s what we want, happy, converted users.

  • http://voltagecreative.com ltozier

    I’m a big fan of speeding up that process, and would expect companies I do business with to utilize all current technologies available to them to make my experience a good one :)

  • http://www.ryderross.com Ryder

    Unfortunately, some zip codes occur in multiple states: http://maps.huge.info/zips_in_multiple_states.htm This method should still be fine since the city/state fields should still be editable after they are autofilled. I’m all for making things quicker & easier for the user. Thanks for this post!

  • Ryan

    Awesome idea; I wish more companies took time to simplify these forms.

  • vc1

    Are those split ZIP Codes served by one post office or are there post offices on each side of the split.

  • http://github.com/generateui Ruudjah

    The idea is good, and I like your post :). “Don’t make me think” is always a good quote to throw into UX discussions. You succeeded in decreasing the think factor a bit.

    However, you should go back to the drawing table.

    The bad:
    - This idea requires a postal system API per country. Each country has different entities providing these API’s: some are open source, some paid, some bad quality. Some countries don’t even have such API’s, because not all adresses are ‘official’.
    - You place the field descriptor *under* the field input. Bad. Very bad. I had to look twice what what going on. This follows UI psychology of the eye which moves from top to down in almost every culture.
    - Looked up input data is colored red. Red is almost everywhere and universally associated with ‘bad’. As such, it implies bad input; which is the opposite. The input comes from the server, which should be good (green color is more appropriate here).
    - Why Must Every Word In The Field Descriptor Be Capitalized For The First Character? That’s just nonsense, and decreases usability since it distorts the users human sentence/word recognition process. Most texts don’t use it, therefore it’s uncommon and requires more thought of the user.

    Tips:
    - Use icons. About half of the people are not sole textual thinkers, but also have a significant degree of visual-spatial thinking. A such, adding icons with good metaphors will require the user to think less.
    - Make input boxes about 125-150% the size of the actual expected input word length. That means about half the zip code input field length, and about double the city input field length.

  • http://voltagecreative.com/about/#wade-meredith Wade Meredith

    These are good points, Ruudjah. Thanks for chiming in.

    Further more, I think this is an excellent time to point out that this post was written by our technical lead, not one of our designers ;-)