Auto Suggest Behavior – erasing information?
12 Jan 2007 - 9:24am
9 years ago
Our team recently added an Auto Suggest component to part of our B2B
website. The component is a tool for selecting account numbers – we
sell to multiple channels, including distributors and they can have
30, 50, even 100+ account number/location combinations:
The Auto Suggest component enables people to start typing their
account number and we show them all their matching account numbers in
a standard looking drop-down - if the person starts typing the number
'1', the drop-down contains all their accounts that start with the
When the person selects an account/location, we update their account
information (name and address) to the right of the component
We just incorporated this into our 'Check Order Status' application
and have begun usability testing it. The first person who tested it
seemed to pick it up very quickly; she came in to the application, hit
the drop-down component, selected an account number, tabbed to the
Purchase Order number field, entered a PO and hit submit! Nice!
However, when she went to change account numbers, she didn't use the
drop down. Somehow she figured out that she could type in the Auto
Suggest (we're struggling with whether people will know if they can
type into it or just use the drop down – and we're looking for subtle
ways to denote the edit capabilities).
She went right up to the drop-down, positioned her cursor in the open
space between the account number and the location information and hit
the backspace key and changed account numbers. The trouble is, she
removed the space between account number and location, yielding no
matches – the pipe represents the cursor:
It seems like there is a simple fix for that – replace the space.
However, one account number can be valid for multiple locations:
1XXXXXXX7 (United States)
If we simply replaced the space, the person might not see all the
valid account/location combinations.
It is worth noting here that we have a Usability Guideline that states
"don't erase erroneous input".
My initial thought is to remove everything to the right of the cursor,
leaving all the significant information of an account number. So,
taking the example from above, it would look something like this –
again, the pipe represents the cursor:
Questions Number One: Would it be odd or unexpected behavior to remove
the information to the right of the cursor from the components
Questions Number Two: The above scenario 'works' only if they start in
the middle of text, obviously. What if they start typing at the front?
Entry State: 1XXXXXXXX (United States) – [currently active account]
Working: |1XXXXXXXX (United States) – [positions cursor at start]
Working: 3|1XXXXXXXX (United States) – [starts typing, no matches possible]
Again, they can have 100+ account number / location combinations. So
it is very possible that, say, 31X could be the start of a whole
series of valid selections – however, in this scenario, the addition
of the 3 at the beginning of this sequence would result in no matches
due to the remaining information from the previously selected
I guess this is really the same question disguised as two different
scenarios: is it odd or unexpected behavior to erase the data to the
right of the position of the cursor?
1.) The simple answer is to remove account selection for checking
order status, just look for the order across all accounts. However,
most of the other account features on our site have the requirement of
needing the account number/location – pricing and availability
inquiries are prime examples of this, it is very likely that two
different accounts could have different prices or availability for the
same product – Japan vs. US for instance. We could remove this for
Check Order Status; however, the need exists for other website
2.) The presentation layer component is just the display, a keyboard
event triggers an AJAX call to the server to get the account matching
account numbers – all the logic resides on the server.
P.S. this is my first post to this list and I am a new member of this
group, so please tell me if I've not followed some posting etiquette!
Also, I couldn't find any way to search the archives, to see if there
are existing answers that might help. Are the archives searchable?