'Select Country' dropdown

17 Dec 2007 - 9:46am
6 years ago
35 replies
2544 reads
Billy Cox
2007

In filling out various web forms, I have noticed two interaction standards
specifically related to dropdowns in which the user selects their country of
residence.

1 -- List is alphabetical (placing United States near the end of the list)

2 -- Most likely selection(s) at the top of the list, with remainder of list
alphabetical.

Which one would you use and what would influence your decision?

Billy Cox
Old World Spices
billy at oldworldspices.com

Comments

17 Dec 2007 - 12:15pm
bminihan
2007

I can't tell you how many times I've had to build a country drop-down, and
I've come to prefer "most likely selection first, with alphabetical
following". For a truly global company/site where people are likely to be
from everywhere (and/or you don't want to show bias toward a particular
country), I'd probably go with pure alphabetical.

On a side note, we're building a primarily US-based site, and I'm toying
with the idea of having someone just enter their postal code in the signup
form. From that, we hope to extract the town, state/province and country.
I'm wondering about the reliability of smaller country postal codes, but
have been working on the assumption that we can get a data feed that's
pretty accurate. I believe Google Mail uses something similar, so wonder if
anyone has used such a form and if they prefer it over the "enter your city,
state/province, zip AND country" forms...

Bryan
http://www.bryanminihan.com

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Billy
Cox
Sent: Monday, December 17, 2007 9:47 AM
To: IxDA list
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] 'Select Country' dropdown

In filling out various web forms, I have noticed two interaction standards
specifically related to dropdowns in which the user selects their country of
residence.

1 -- List is alphabetical (placing United States near the end of the list)

2 -- Most likely selection(s) at the top of the list, with remainder of list
alphabetical.

Which one would you use and what would influence your decision?

Billy Cox
Old World Spices
billy at oldworldspices.com

________________________________________________________________
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February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
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17 Dec 2007 - 12:19pm
Anonymous

In my opinion, unless your site truly has a large international user base,
NOT putting the US at the top is a weak swipe at trying to be politically
correct, and it truly irritates me.

On Dec 17, 2007 8:46 AM, Billy Cox <billy at oldworldspices.com> wrote:

> In filling out various web forms, I have noticed two interaction standards
> specifically related to dropdowns in which the user selects their country
> of
> residence.
>
> 1 -- List is alphabetical (placing United States near the end of the list)
>
> 2 -- Most likely selection(s) at the top of the list, with remainder of
> list
> alphabetical.
>
> Which one would you use and what would influence your decision?
>
>
> Billy Cox
> Old World Spices
> billy at oldworldspices.com
>
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

17 Dec 2007 - 12:23pm
Rob Nero
2005

And on the other side of the coin... I am always surprised at how
assumingly biased a company can be perceived when they put the United
States at the top of the list.

Rob :)

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
Mike Scarpiello
Sent: Monday, December 17, 2007 11:19 AM
To: billy at oldworldspices.com
Cc: IxDA list
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] 'Select Country' dropdown

In my opinion, unless your site truly has a large international user
base,
NOT putting the US at the top is a weak swipe at trying to be
politically
correct, and it truly irritates me.

On Dec 17, 2007 8:46 AM, Billy Cox <billy at oldworldspices.com> wrote:

> In filling out various web forms, I have noticed two interaction
standards
> specifically related to dropdowns in which the user selects their
country
> of
> residence.
>
> 1 -- List is alphabetical (placing United States near the end of the
list)
>
> 2 -- Most likely selection(s) at the top of the list, with remainder
of
> list
> alphabetical.
>
> Which one would you use and what would influence your decision?
>
>
> Billy Cox
> Old World Spices
> billy at oldworldspices.com
>
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>
________________________________________________________________
*Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/

________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
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17 Dec 2007 - 12:41pm
Joseph Selbie
2007

Billy,

Your users should determine that for you. If you have a clear majority, or
very high percentage of users, from one country, such as the US, then I
think it would be very user centered to put their country at the top of the
list. If you have no dominant country(s) then go alpha.

Joseph Selbie
Founder, CEO Tristream
Web Application Design
http://www.tristream.com

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Billy
Cox
Sent: Monday, December 17, 2007 6:47 AM
To: IxDA list
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] 'Select Country' dropdown

In filling out various web forms, I have noticed two interaction standards
specifically related to dropdowns in which the user selects their country of
residence.

1 -- List is alphabetical (placing United States near the end of the list)

2 -- Most likely selection(s) at the top of the list, with remainder of list
alphabetical.

Which one would you use and what would influence your decision?

Billy Cox
Old World Spices
billy at oldworldspices.com

________________________________________________________________
*Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/

________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

17 Dec 2007 - 12:55pm
bryan.haggerty ...
2005

I had a similar situation where users needed to select multiple
countries. The version I inherited was a basic select box with
countries sorted alphabetically and required the user to control-click
to select multiples. Certainly wasn't the easiest solution, as for
one, it was difficult to navigate and required extra instructions on
how to select multiple countries.

The solution I ended up designing took a bit of research as I wanted
to "bubble up" the most commonly selected countries as well as make it
easier to navigate around the country list and more apparent that
multiple countries could be selected. The top 5 countries were the
countries most often selected by users (and there were countries I did
not assume, so the homework was a good idea), followed by an alpha
sorted list of countries. The design also included a small hyperlinked
alphabet at the top of the list of countries, which allowed the user
to quickly jump the list to a particular section of the list with
countries that started with the selected letter. Each country also
featured a checkbox for selection for a more apparent connection with
the fact that the user could select multiple.

Bryan Haggerty
User Experience Designer
JPMorgan Chase

On Dec 17, 9:46 am, "Billy Cox" <bi... at oldworldspices.com> wrote:
> In filling out various web forms, I have noticed two interaction standards
> specifically related to dropdowns in which the user selects their country of
> residence.
>
> 1 -- List is alphabetical (placing United States near the end of the list)
>
> 2 -- Most likely selection(s) at the top of the list, with remainder of list
> alphabetical.
>
> Which one would you use and what would influence your decision?
>
> Billy Cox
> Old World Spices
> bi... at oldworldspices.com
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today:http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... disc... at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help ..................http://www.ixda.org/help

17 Dec 2007 - 12:59pm
.pauric
2006

Out of curiosity, how feasible would it be for you to hook in to the
geolocation DB api at http://www.hostip.info/ and provide the form
based on US preferred or Worldwide?

regards - pauric

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://gamma.ixda.org/discuss?post=23593

17 Dec 2007 - 1:05pm
Jennifer Berk
2007

On Dec 17, 2007 12:15 PM, Bryan Minihan <bjminihan at nc.rr.com> wrote:
> I can't tell you how many times I've had to build a country drop-down, and
> I've come to prefer "most likely selection first, with alphabetical
> following". For a truly global company/site where people are likely to be
> from everywhere (and/or you don't want to show bias toward a particular
> country), I'd probably go with pure alphabetical.

An interesting discussion of this issue is at
http://www.456bereastreet.com/archive/200608/selecting_country_names_in_forms/
. Discussed in the comments is another strategy for country
dropdowns: if you're willing to put in some programming time and
possibly buy a dataset, you can use the "most likely" method based not
on the aggregate audience but on an individual IP address / country
lookup. If my browser says I'm in the US, I see that at the top of
the list; if it says I'm in Japan, I see that instead.

Or (again from the 456bereastreet conversation) let the user type
their country into a field, with type-ahead and error checking as
desired: http://www.brucelawson.co.uk/index.php/2006/forms-inputting-country-names/
.

Jennifer Berk

17 Dec 2007 - 1:50pm
Shaun Bergmann
2007

I suppose the only possible drawback to that method is when the user is
coming in using some sort of 'Anonymizer' software, and consistently showing
up as some foreign IP.

On Mon, 17 Dec 2007 09:59:06, pauric <radiorental at gmail.com> wrote:

> Out of curiosity, how feasible would it be for you to hook in to the
> geolocation DB api at http://www.hostip.info/ and provide the form
> based on US preferred or Worldwide?
>
> regards - pauric
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://gamma.ixda.org/discuss?post=23593
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

17 Dec 2007 - 2:54pm
niklasw
2005

On Dec 17, 2007 7:05 PM, Jennifer Berk <jcberk at gmail.com> wrote:
> Or (again from the 456bereastreet conversation) let the user type
> their country into a field, with type-ahead and error checking as
> desired: http://www.brucelawson.co.uk/index.php/2006/forms-inputting-country-names/

With the addition of functionality (like google suggests') where the
user after entering the first couple of letters based on those can
select from a filtered auto dropping down list the preferred selection
either with mouse or arrow keys.

17 Dec 2007 - 3:05pm
Caroline Jarrett
2007

In addition to other comments:

I'm currently advising clients like this:

1. Check your databases. It's very likely that 5 to 10 countries
account for virtually all your traffic.
2. Offer the most popular few countries and 'other' with a box to type
into.

The apparently 'politically correct' list of just under 200 is more
problematic than it initially appears:

- countries change official names more often than you might think
- some jurisdictions may or may not appear in the list, e.g.
Gibraltar, depending on whether the list is being used for geographic,
postal, administrative or some other reason
- the official name may be different from the commonly used name e.g.
Republic of Korea / Korea
- people have strong views about the country they live in, e.g. some
people who live in Scotland may have their own reasons for preferring
'Scotland' to UK
- even if they agree with the geographical boundary, they may have
particular reasons for using one name rather than another e.g. a
preference for 'Burma' over 'Myanmar' or vice-versa
- the official names themselves aren't always entirely stable. For
example, there's a country that is still called " the former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia" by the Universal Postal Union (www.upu.int) and
many other international groupings of countries
- some of the lists include 'countries' that barely justify the name
e.g. my personal favourite, Wake Island. (My apologies to any Wake
Islanders if this seems disparaging).

Coming from the UK, I find it's not uncommon to have to play the 'hunt
my country' game: is it at the top? down at the bottom near to Uganda
as United Kingdom? Under E for England? Ah ha, someone's put it under
G for Great Britain! (My view of the 'correct' anwer is that I'd look
for United Kingdom, for what it's worth). I'm waiting for the day that
I find it under R for Royaume Uni.

Caroline Jarrett
caroline.jarrett at effortmark.co.uk
01525 370379

Effortmark Ltd
Usability - Forms - Content

From: "Billy Cox" <billy at oldworldspices.com>

: In filling out various web forms, I have noticed two interaction
standards
: specifically related to dropdowns in which the user selects their
country of
: residence.
:
: 1 -- List is alphabetical (placing United States near the end of the
list)
:
: 2 -- Most likely selection(s) at the top of the list, with remainder
of list
: alphabetical.
:
: Which one would you use and what would influence your decision?
:
:
: Billy Cox
: Old World Spices
: billy at oldworldspices.com
:
:
:
: ________________________________________________________________
: *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
: February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
: Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
:
: ________________________________________________________________
: Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
: To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
: Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
: List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
: List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
: This message has been comprehensively scanned for viruses,
: please visit http://www.avg.power.net.uk/ for details.
:
:

17 Dec 2007 - 3:44pm
Anonymous

Well done Caroline.

On Dec 17, 2007 2:05 PM, Caroline Jarrett <caroline.jarrett at effortmark.co.uk>
wrote:

> In addition to other comments:
>
> I'm currently advising clients like this:
>
> 1. Check your databases. It's very likely that 5 to 10 countries
> account for virtually all your traffic.
> 2. Offer the most popular few countries and 'other' with a box to type
> into.
>
> The apparently 'politically correct' list of just under 200 is more
> problematic than it initially appears:
>
> - countries change official names more often than you might think
> - some jurisdictions may or may not appear in the list, e.g.
> Gibraltar, depending on whether the list is being used for geographic,
> postal, administrative or some other reason
> - the official name may be different from the commonly used name e.g.
> Republic of Korea / Korea
> - people have strong views about the country they live in, e.g. some
> people who live in Scotland may have their own reasons for preferring
> 'Scotland' to UK
> - even if they agree with the geographical boundary, they may have
> particular reasons for using one name rather than another e.g. a
> preference for 'Burma' over 'Myanmar' or vice-versa
> - the official names themselves aren't always entirely stable. For
> example, there's a country that is still called " the former Yugoslav
> Republic of Macedonia" by the Universal Postal Union (www.upu.int) and
> many other international groupings of countries
> - some of the lists include 'countries' that barely justify the name
> e.g. my personal favourite, Wake Island. (My apologies to any Wake
> Islanders if this seems disparaging).
>
> Coming from the UK, I find it's not uncommon to have to play the 'hunt
> my country' game: is it at the top? down at the bottom near to Uganda
> as United Kingdom? Under E for England? Ah ha, someone's put it under
> G for Great Britain! (My view of the 'correct' anwer is that I'd look
> for United Kingdom, for what it's worth). I'm waiting for the day that
> I find it under R for Royaume Uni.
>
> Caroline Jarrett
> caroline.jarrett at effortmark.co.uk
> 01525 370379
>
> Effortmark Ltd
> Usability - Forms - Content
>
> From: "Billy Cox" <billy at oldworldspices.com>
>
> : In filling out various web forms, I have noticed two interaction
> standards
> : specifically related to dropdowns in which the user selects their
> country of
> : residence.
> :
> : 1 -- List is alphabetical (placing United States near the end of the
> list)
> :
> : 2 -- Most likely selection(s) at the top of the list, with remainder
> of list
> : alphabetical.
> :
> : Which one would you use and what would influence your decision?
> :
> :
> : Billy Cox
> : Old World Spices
> : billy at oldworldspices.com
> :
> :
> :
> : ________________________________________________________________
> : *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> : February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> : Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
> :
> : ________________________________________________________________
> : Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> : To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> : Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> : List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> : List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
> : This message has been comprehensively scanned for viruses,
> : please visit http://www.avg.power.net.uk/ for details.
> :
> :
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

17 Dec 2007 - 7:24pm
cfmdesigns
2004

In some cases, I would recommend not going strictly alphabetical, because it biases away from the majority of your users.

Our product's sign up page includes a popup for State, which includes US protectorates like Guam. Unfortunately, alphabetically, Federated States of Micronesia precedes Florid, and Palau comes before Pennsylvania. So users who alphakey to their state end up with a big What The F---?

Do we have *any* users from Palau in our system? Heck if I know, but I'll bet it's way fewer than from Wilkes-Barre. So by including this oddity alphabetically in our list -- rather than somewhere else -- we serve the one user from there and abuse the thousands from somewhere more common.

The same thing applies on a global basis. If 90% of your projected users are from English speaking countries, move them to the start of their letters of the alphabet. Make things easy for the huge bulk of users, maybe confusing for a small number of them, and slightly worse for the tiny portion who don't get true logical alphakeying (like the huge contingent from Uganda who are going to be soooo angry that United States came up on the first U! [*]).

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." Consistency is great, but if there's a good reason to be inconsistent, go for it.

-- Jim Drew
Seattle, WA

[*] - Apologies to anyone from Uganda. Only an example, recommending for a case where Ugandans are not anticipated to be a meaningful fraction of site traffic.

Where you draw the line of what is significant enough to jog out of consistency, I don't know. Should Arizona come before Alaska, purely on population grounds dictating likelihood of users?

-----Original Message-----
>From: Bryan Minihan <bjminihan at nc.rr.com>
>
>I can't tell you how many times I've had to build a country drop-down, and
>I've come to prefer "most likely selection first, with alphabetical
>following". For a truly global company/site where people are likely to be
>from everywhere (and/or you don't want to show bias toward a particular
>country), I'd probably go with pure alphabetical.

17 Dec 2007 - 7:35pm
cfmdesigns
2004

>From: Billy Cox <billy at oldworldspices.com>
>
>2 -- Most likely selection(s) at the top of the list, with remainder of list
>alphabetical.

If you choose the latter, make sure that the pulled-out items are also listed again in the full alpha listing. I've been caught a couple times trying to find United States in the U's after alphakeying to there, and then having to scroll all the way back to the top of the list to get to my desired location. Put it in twice and same somebody some grief.

-- Jim

17 Dec 2007 - 8:10pm
Daniel
2004

Hi folks:

I am thinking about using ClickTale (www.clicktale.net), to gather
some data about actual usage patterns on a website.

This tool records the end user's screen as they interact with the
web interface. It reports back with videos and heat-maps.

Has anyone on here used this tool or has heard feedback about it? I
am interested in finding out more about it to we weigh the potential
risks and benefits.

Thank you,
Daniel M

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23593

17 Dec 2007 - 8:17pm
Katie Albers
2005

So, I have this really radical, amazing idea...Let's not use drop
downs for selections with insanely large numbers of selections! Every
time I see a drop down for state it makes me nuts...especially
because so many of them just show the two letter abbreviation....One
of the few numeric heuristics that was drilled into my head when I
was just a baby usability student was that a drop down should never,
under any circumstances, contain more than 13 items (and really not
more than 12, but they'd let us get away with one extra).

I understand the need for standardization and the need for error
checking, but there are other ways to go about it. Yes, it takes more
programming to have a text field and then error check that against
permissable countries, or use a scrolling selection window (which has
many of the same problems that Caroline pointed out -- as in "What DO
you people think my country is called?") but to my mind both of these
are preferable to the mindless instantiation of the drop down menu
whenever data needs to be consistent.

I think that in the case of addresses it's time for us to stop making
the selection process easier on the technology side and start making
it easier on the human side.

Of course there's probably nothing we can do to eliminate the
US-based problem with data entry people who are frustrated when they
can't find New Mexico on the country list.

Katie

At 4:35 PM -0800 12/17/07, Jim Drew wrote:
> >From: Billy Cox <billy at oldworldspices.com>
>>
>>2 -- Most likely selection(s) at the top of the list, with remainder of list
>>alphabetical.
>
>If you choose the latter, make sure that the pulled-out items are
>also listed again in the full alpha listing. I've been caught a
>couple times trying to find United States in the U's after
>alphakeying to there, and then having to scroll all the way back to
>the top of the list to get to my desired location. Put it in twice
>and same somebody some grief.
>
>-- Jim

--

----------------
Katie Albers
katie at firstthought.com

17 Dec 2007 - 8:32pm
bminihan
2007

I don't know if "states" fall into the same consistency rule, but over time
when I tab into a State field, I hit the letter N six or seven times (can't
remember which off the top of my head), and whether they use NC or North
Carolina, I almost always wind up on my state. That is, even if you use
acronyms, use the order that's most consistent with what users expect. In
my case, I expect to hit NY before NC, even though that's not truly
alphabetical. Kind of odd how that turned out, but it's a weird sort of
consistency that works.

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." Consistency is
great, but if there's a good reason to be inconsistent, go for it.

-- Jim Drew
Seattle, WA

17 Dec 2007 - 8:34pm
bminihan
2007

Apologies for the bad markup...Jim provided the quote below, my blurb is
above his...

-----Original Message-----
From: Bryan Minihan [mailto:bjminihan at nc.rr.com]
Sent: Monday, December 17, 2007 8:33 PM
To: 'Jim Drew'; 'UI List'
Subject: RE: [IxDA Discuss] 'Select Country' dropdown

I said:
I don't know if "states" fall into the same consistency rule, but over time
when I tab into a State field, I hit the letter N six or seven times (can't
remember which off the top of my head), and whether they use NC or North
Carolina, I almost always wind up on my state. That is, even if you use
acronyms, use the order that's most consistent with what users expect. In
my case, I expect to hit NY before NC, even though that's not truly
alphabetical. Kind of odd how that turned out, but it's a weird sort of
consistency that works.

Jim said:
"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." Consistency is
great, but if there's a good reason to be inconsistent, go for it.

-- Jim Drew
Seattle, WA

And everyone else said "whoop".

17 Dec 2007 - 12:29pm
Jeff Seager
2007

I wonder about #2, Billy ... Most likely according to whose criteria? Ordered by population? Saturation of internet availability? I've seen what you describe, which I've mainly chalked up to ethnocentrism, but #2 also might be reasonable for a U.S.-based business if very little of their customer-base is international, for example.

If you navigate to a dropdown list and strike the "U" key, it should take you pretty close to United States (Uganda or Uruguay, maybe, depending on the countries included in the actual list). As an end-user, I like that functionality in various contexts and I use it a lot.

Given that built-in usability accommodation, straight alphabetical listing seems reasonable enough and congruent with most people's experience and expectations. That's my thinking, anyway, unless you had a database-driven solution and "sniffed" for the geographic location of the user's IP address to present the most likely country as a calculated guess. Because of the coding burden, I'm inclined to let the users use their built-in processor for some of this! So my vote is for #1.

Jeff
> From: billy at oldworldspices.com
> To: discuss at ixda.org
> Date: Mon, 17 Dec 2007 08:46:37 -0600
> Subject: [IxDA Discuss] 'Select Country' dropdown
>
> In filling out various web forms, I have noticed two interaction standards
> specifically related to dropdowns in which the user selects their country of
> residence.
>
> 1 -- List is alphabetical (placing United States near the end of the list)
>
> 2 -- Most likely selection(s) at the top of the list, with remainder of list
> alphabetical.
>
> Which one would you use and what would influence your decision?
>
>
> Billy Cox
> Old World Spices
> billy at oldworldspices.com

_________________________________________________________________
Get the power of Windows + Web with the new Windows Live.
http://www.windowslive.com?ocid=TXT_TAGHM_Wave2_powerofwindows_122007

17 Dec 2007 - 2:53pm
Andrew Milmoe
2007

The other issue is that in Europe users frequently do business across borders... An Italian may want to see the site from a French point of view... or a global enterprise may need to see the point of view of one of their foreign subsidiaries.

We Americans tend to be pretty American-centric. Keep in mind that users from emerging markets (e.g. China) will pass us by very soon.

-Milmoe

----------------------------------------

From: "Shaun Bergmann" <shaunbergmann at gmail.com>
Sent: Monday, December 17, 2007 10:50 AM
To: pauric <radiorental at gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] 'Select Country' dropdown

I suppose the only possible drawback to that method is when the user is
coming in using some sort of 'Anonymizer' software, and consistently showing
up as some foreign IP.

On Mon, 17 Dec 2007 09:59:06, pauric wrote:

> Out of curiosity, how feasible would it be for you to hook in to the
> geolocation DB api at http://www.hostip.info/ and provide the form
> based on US preferred or Worldwide?
>
> regards - pauric
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://gamma.ixda.org/discuss?post=23593
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>
________________________________________________________________
*Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/

________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
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17 Dec 2007 - 11:46am
Chris Maissan -...
2007

What about selecting a default country by IP address? (No idea what this
would involve technically.)

Chris

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Billy
Cox
Sent: Monday, December 17, 2007 9:47 AM
To: IxDA list
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] 'Select Country' dropdown

In filling out various web forms, I have noticed two interaction standards
specifically related to dropdowns in which the user selects their country of
residence.

1 -- List is alphabetical (placing United States near the end of the list)

2 -- Most likely selection(s) at the top of the list, with remainder of list
alphabetical.

Which one would you use and what would influence your decision?

Billy Cox
Old World Spices
billy at oldworldspices.com

17 Dec 2007 - 12:28pm
Jonathan Koren
2007

Put the likely ones at the top, and the rest in alphabetical order.
Make sure there's a line between the likely countries and the rest.
It makes it clear that this is actually two separate lists in the same
dropdown.

I'd go with most likely because it's less work for your users. And if
you happen to get a user from Burkina Faso, they can still find their
country on the list.

On Dec 17, 2007, at 6:46 AM, Billy Cox wrote:

> In filling out various web forms, I have noticed two interaction
> standards
> specifically related to dropdowns in which the user selects their
> country of
> residence.
>
> 1 -- List is alphabetical (placing United States near the end of the
> list)
>
> 2 -- Most likely selection(s) at the top of the list, with remainder
> of list
> alphabetical.
>
> Which one would you use and what would influence your decision?
>
>
> Billy Cox
> Old World Spices
> billy at oldworldspices.com
>
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

--
Jonathan Koren
jonathan at soe.ucsc.edu
http://www.soe.ucsc.edu/~jonathan/

17 Dec 2007 - 11:21am
kimbieler
2007

From a usability point of view, if 90% of your users are in the
U.S., it makes sense to put it at the top of the list. However, some
websites (like multinational corporations or NGOs) might not want to
play favorites, for political reasons.

I think if I were putting multiple countries out of alphabetical
order at the top of the list, if would be nice to have a divider to
separate where the alphabetical list begins. That way people can more
easily understand what's going on.

-- Kim

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
Kim Bieler Graphic Design
www.kbgd.com
240-476-3129
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

17 Dec 2007 - 1:18pm
Lucy Buykx
2007

@pauric - re hostip.info. My IP address is squarely placed in the
Irish Sea so probably would not come with the right country!

Speaking from the other side of the pond I would recommend sticking
to our official (abbreviated) title of "United Kingdom".

There are unfortunately several sites where you have to hunt down
what they have called us UK, Britain, Great Britain or four entries
England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We only use the split
listing when we want to enter more teams in sporting events or
having our regular internal spats about control from London.

The UK has a very reliable post code look up system - our postal
codes usually refer to fewer than 10 homes - however it is a licensed
product so you would need a lot of customers to justify the cost.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23593

17 Dec 2007 - 12:55pm
Weixi Yen
2007

Why not let them type country name or code inside a textbox, then do a
dynamic check to see if that country exists, updating them with text
alongside the input field? Then you don't get a huge dropdown and have
people wondering whether US is at the top or bottom.

After they fill it in, you can do a confirmation check like Amazon to give
them the closest address match according to their input. Then you can
format it correctly into your database.

17 Dec 2007 - 9:31pm
Amit Sharma
2007

How about an alphabetical list; with the most common choices (you can
limit it to 3 - 5) showing up at the top based on user selections; a
La MS Word font family dropdown. That way you don't force users to
see your top 5 choices (US or any other country at the top).
Also, add auto-suggest (Yahoo mail, Word).

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23593

18 Dec 2007 - 3:06am
stauciuc
2006

By the way... Many times I come across services I would like to use or
stores I would like to buy from and the only way to tell if it works outside
U.S. or not is to go through the registration process and get to that Enter
your address page..I try searching the geographical scope in the 'About'
section many times, but I never find it there.

..If they're only U.S. based, I understand that I'm not their target and
they don't really care, but it's still a bit frustrating. If they're global,
I would apprecciate knowing that as soon as possible.
I would expect the home page to be an indicator of what a business/service
is about, and geographical scope is pretty important considering I'm surfing
the web, not walking down the street.

Any other people outside U.S. experiencing this?

Sebi

On Dec 17, 2007 9:53 PM, Andrew Milmoe <andrew at milmoe.com> wrote:

>
> We Americans tend to be pretty American-centric. Keep in mind that users
> from emerging markets (e.g. China) will pass us by very soon.
>
> -Milmoe
>
>

--
Sergiu Sebastian Tauciuc
http://www.sergiutauciuc.ro/en/

18 Dec 2007 - 5:39am
Claude Knaus
2007

I rely on an strict alphabetical list because I use the keyboard.
I live in Switzerland (which is one of the last countries starting with 'S').

What I do:

1. Press 'T' -> This will show Tanzania or Taiwan.
2. Press a few times 'Arrow Up' until I find Switzerland.

I guess if the most popular countries show up at the top, selection by
keyboard will not work.

-- Claude

On Dec 17, 2007 5:21 PM, Kim Bieler <kim at kbgd.com> wrote:
> From a usability point of view, if 90% of your users are in the
> U.S., it makes sense to put it at the top of the list. However, some
> websites (like multinational corporations or NGOs) might not want to
> play favorites, for political reasons.
>
> I think if I were putting multiple countries out of alphabetical
> order at the top of the list, if would be nice to have a divider to
> separate where the alphabetical list begins. That way people can more
> easily understand what's going on.
>
>
> -- Kim
>
> + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
> Kim Bieler Graphic Design
> www.kbgd.com
> 240-476-3129
> + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
>
>
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

18 Dec 2007 - 4:17am
Formulate
2007

Like Sergiu I have had to resort to going through the
registration/purchasing process to find out whether a site is US
only.

Sometimes I also have to search high and low to work out what
currency prices are in.

I suspect people forget that the Web is rather borderless.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23593

18 Dec 2007 - 4:21am
Formulate
2007

Some members have suggested using the IP address as a default pre-fill
for the country field.

The benefit of this approach is that for the majority of users, they
pre-fill selection will be right, saving them from modifying one of
the form's fields.

However, it may not be correct where a router, proxy or cache is
involved.

Also,pre-filling the field could lead to other problems. Blank fields
are a visual indicator of where data has yet to be entered. Users may
therefore skim over pre-filled fields, as their mental model says
"that's already done".

Using IP address is also not as simple as it may sound. An
IP-to-country mapping is required, and that mapping has to be
continually updated.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23593

18 Dec 2007 - 11:31am
Billy Cox
2007

I cannot understand why a state dropdown would display state abbreviations
versus the actual name of the state. One would assume that the average user
knows the abbreviation of their own state, but I used to assume that
everyone knew that they could TAB through a form.

As for the maximum number of entries in a dropdown, I don't know that those
rules necessarily apply now that everyone has a scrolly-mouse and one can
also jump through the list by typing the first character of the desired
selection.

I worked on a project a couple of years ago in which the client insisted on
having a dropdown populated with every employee in the company (1000+). They
were also in the thick of sub-prime mortgage lending, so long-term thinking
was not part of the company culture.

I think type-ahead controls (or whatever they are called) will replace
dropdowns in the foreseeable future and I won't shed a tear.

"I don't know if "states" fall into the same consistency rule, but over time
when I tab into a State field, I hit the letter N six or seven times (can't
remember which off the top of my head), and whether they use NC or North
Carolina, I almost always wind up on my state. That is, even if you use
acronyms, use the order that's most consistent with what users expect. In
my case, I expect to hit NY before NC, even though that's not truly
alphabetical. Kind of odd how that turned out, but it's a weird sort of
consistency that works."

18 Dec 2007 - 10:52am
Chris Williams
2007

On Tue, 2007-12-18 at 11:39 +0100, Claude Knaus wrote:
> I rely on an strict alphabetical list because I use the keyboard.
> I live in Switzerland (which is one of the last countries starting with 'S').
>
> What I do:
>
> 1. Press 'T' -> This will show Tanzania or Taiwan.
> 2. Press a few times 'Arrow Up' until I find Switzerland.
>
> I guess if the most popular countries show up at the top, selection by
> keyboard will not work.

One thing I've noticed in this thread is that a lot of people assume
that selection by keyboard only takes the first character for random
access into the list. In both IE7 and Firefox 2 (I just tested both)
you can type multiple characters to get to a spot in the list.

I don't know what this affects as far as the real question goes, but I
do know it would apparently make dropdowns a little easier for some. At
least in Claude's case, he could take a number of keystrokes down to
two, 'Sw' to find his country.

--chris

18 Dec 2007 - 12:02pm
bminihan
2007

One of the most frequent usability requests we got at my last company was to
make IE browser dropdowns behave more like MS Office dropdown lists, wherein
you click a dropdown box and can type the first several letters of an option
to jump directly to it (e.g. typing "nor" to get to "North Carolina" rather
than "nnnnnn"). For folks just beginning to use productivity apps heavily
all day long, esp in forms with several dropdowns, it can get pretty
frustrating...

Bryan
http://www.bryanminihan.com

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Billy
Cox
Sent: Tuesday, December 18, 2007 11:31 AM
To: 'UI List'
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] 'Select Country' dropdown

I cannot understand why a state dropdown would display state abbreviations
versus the actual name of the state. One would assume that the average user
knows the abbreviation of their own state, but I used to assume that
everyone knew that they could TAB through a form.

18 Dec 2007 - 12:14pm
Claude Knaus
2007

On Dec 18, 2007 4:52 PM, Chris Williams <chris.williams at armstrong.edu> wrote:
>
> ...
>
> I don't know what this affects as far as the real question goes, but I
> do know it would apparently make dropdowns a little easier for some. At
> least in Claude's case, he could take a number of keystrokes down to
> two, 'Sw' to find his country.

That would match Sweden. :p

Actually, I was not complaining about the number of key strokes. The
trick with typing 'T' as the first character works fine for me.

-- Claude

18 Dec 2007 - 4:13pm
Esteban Barahona
2006

I prefer the map divided with regions... drop-down menus are ugly. or
divide the website by languages if it's not necessary to have it
divided by countries.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://gamma.ixda.org/discuss?post=23593

19 Dec 2007 - 12:04am
cfmdesigns
2004

On Dec 18, 2007, at 8:31 AM, Billy Cox wrote:

> I cannot understand why a state dropdown would display state
> abbreviations
> versus the actual name of the state. One would assume that the
> average user
> knows the abbreviation of their own state, but I used to assume that
> everyone knew that they could TAB through a form.

Even today, Mac users can choose to tab between just text boxes and
list, or between all controls. Used to be that they could only tab
between text fields.

Any keyboard shortcut is a power user feature, even one so elementary
as tabbing through a form. Many many users don't use it, even those
who have learned that they can use it at some point in the past.

> As for the maximum number of entries in a dropdown, I don't know
> that those
> rules necessarily apply now that everyone has a scrolly-mouse and
> one can
> also jump through the list by typing the first character of the
> desired
> selection.

Even more of a power-user feature, and not all software supports it,
and lists out of order tank with it.

And always be cautious when you say "everyone". Perhaps 5% of user
are still on Win 98, and probably don't have such. Laptops don't have
such. Mac mice prior to the current Mighty Mouse don't have such.
(And sometimes those break: my Mighty Mouse only scrolls up and to the
sides, not down. Rrrr.)

The places where you can get away with more than the "recommended"
number of items in a popup would be: when there are logical and
visible chunks, when the user can be expected to be intimately
familiar with the large set of contents (like with a list of states,
for US users), or when there's no better choice (like countries of the
world; even if you break down by continent, you still approach 40 for
Africa).

-- Jim Drew
cfmdesigns at earthlink.net

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