/- impacts of 'address verification systems' on online forms

16 Feb 2010 - 9:12pm
6 years ago
8 replies
1254 reads
Stephen Holmes

>From a user point of view, yes, complexity will always increase
abandonment rates, however one of your stakeholders is the business
and if it keeps the data "clean" and data maintenance costs down
then that benefit has to come into the pro and con equation.

Validation and verification CAN help a user fix simple typos and
assure the User that the address has been entered correctly.

The issue I have with QAS is the different formats for different
countries may need some explanation to the user on how they work, and
it would also be helpful for this Help information to promote the
benefits of an accurate address to the User. i.e. quicker delivery
less tracking issues, less lost packages etc.

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Posted from the new ixda.org


16 Feb 2010 - 9:26pm
Susan Oslin

Hi Marcus,

If definitely adds weight to the user experience, so the real
question is does the application 'require' it. Is it really
necessary? It may be, in which case do it, otherwise its too much of
a intrusion and can be especially painful if any inconsistencies are
found. I've even encountered problems with form submissions failing
because of an error with the data service provider. The user did
everything right, but the submission fails. Now that's a bad user

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Posted from the new ixda.org

16 Feb 2010 - 10:23pm
Marcus Coghlan

@susan Thanks for your feedback. Cases like the one you've mention
really concern me, but am unclear as to how often these frustrations
occur. I'd like to say that even one case is one too many and that
the business should shoulder the responsibility of any errors -
system or user.

@stephen Totally agree with your point on the business being a
stakeholder. The 'clean data' and 'address correction costs' Pros
are already on the table and have no objection from me. I'm just
concerned that, other than the license price, the Cons may not have
been fully considered. If the ux and completion rates are affected by
the verification system, I'd like to raise the business's awareness
of this risk and allow them to make an informed decision - how many
lost memberships would invalidate the benefits of cleaner data?
Ideally, we would be able to design a solution that uses the
verification system and only enhances the ux. Your suggestions may be
a good way to move toward that goal.

Thanks both for taking the time. If anyone else has any experience,
insights or opinions on this topic, I'd be keen to hear them.


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Posted from the new ixda.org

17 Feb 2010 - 3:41am
Maciej Bieganski


I'm working with classified websites, and they are using address
verification & suggestions in many cases, especially for 'place an
ad' activity.

Some thoughts on that;

There's no 100% complete address DB, or 100% reliable one. In some
cases administrative boundaries are simply changing too fast. New
streets are created, zip codes assignments are changing, new zip
codes are appearing etc.

You should always provide a way to enter address data without
verification. In other words - positive address verification should
be a helpful tool not a strict requirements. Sometimes user simply
knows better where he live :)

The issue is valid for address suggestions. You should always stick
to natural ways of fields filling. Address fields are expected to be
TEXT fields, user can TYPE his data in. Although geo-location
databases are providing you with choices it is better to use them as
suggestions rather than regular SELECT options.

When address verification takes place - keep help messages / hints
always visible. Your users will tend to feel disoriented with
additional activity often invoked without their explicit action
(address verification in AJAX for example).

Click heatmaps always show the same in such case - users are clicking
desperately in near by area to find any hint what had actually happen.
So keep in mind, that this part of the form is usually time consuming.

Message provided to the user in case of the negative verification
result should be really polite, also it must contain clear info
"what to do if my address is not recognized as valid"?. I assume
you're not interested in users running away from your site.

5. "VERIFY ADDRESS" button hels
Though it is technically possible to verify address by ajax
scripting, you should provide additional button that allows user to
verify his address manually. This might be also important due to
accessibility requirements.

If you have any questions, let me know pls.

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Posted from the new ixda.org

17 Feb 2010 - 4:20am
Marcus Coghlan

@Maciej Thanks for taking the time to respond. You've given me a good
list of things to consider and present to the business to help them
make an informed decision.
I particularly like the suggestion of having a clear message
communicating what will happen if the provided address is incorrect.
Are the heat maps you mentioned available online somewhere?
Thanks again. Marcus.

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Posted from the new ixda.org

17 Feb 2010 - 4:39am
Maciej Bieganski


I'm afraid these are not :/ My Clients will not be very appreciated
if I publish them...

Maciej Bieganski

4UX / User Experience / Web Usability Consulting

skype: mbieganski
jabber: maciej.bieganski at gmail.com

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Posted from the new ixda.org

17 Feb 2010 - 8:30am
Graham Sear

Hi Marcus,

I've used these on ecommerce sites before (in fact QAS) and I
personally feel they can be implemented to improve the speed,
usability, and simplify the form completion.

A user filling out the form wouldn't necessarily have to completed
the entire form as you could ask just for house name and postcode,
then doing an AJAX request to return the rest of the fields
ultimately speeding up the process. You could also add auto-complete
to the form fields to make it even quicker.

It also means the address will (very very) rarely be incorrect as the
data is coming from a respected source and isn't liable to human
input error.

If you are worried about doing the address checking through
JavaScript you could always do this on form submit and return a
friendly error page letting the user know the address is incorrect.

As with all form questions the Luke Wroblewski PDF is always worth a



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Posted from the new ixda.org

18 Feb 2010 - 1:36am
Dimiter Simov

Hi Marcus,

I think you should avoid anything that might stop the user flow
through the form. Try not to prevent users from entering the address
in the way they like.

If you are going to accept international addresses, the challenge is
huge. Can you cope with different alphabets?

You should be ready to take variations in spelling. If you don't,
users may be unwilling to accept your version of the spelling. For
example, I live in Sofia, Bulgaria. When I enter the city in
www.typepal.com, I do it as Sofia and typepal suggests Sofija. I do
not want to accept their spelling; however, I am not sure whether
they will recognize the address if I enter it my way.

If you have autosuggestions, you should let people enter the address
in a way that differs from the autosuggestion. For example,
www.geni.com (a genealogy application) deletes my entry for location
if it does not match an exact value in their database. That's bad
usability, especially for a genealogy app - location names might have
changed in spelling and entirely over decades and centuries.

If you validate the address, you need to find a meaningful way to let
people know you have a problem with what they entered. For example,
the demo at www.qas.com tells "No matches could be found. Please
edit the address or accept it to use a the final address." This is
not enough. What are the consequences? Will I still get my delivery?

In many cases, there are two or more versions of an address depending
on the local authority that maintains the database. For example, the
utilities companies use one version of my address, and the
municipality uses another.

Applying the verification real time might be poor experience. You may
consider asynchronous verification. Let users enter their data. On
submit, accept everything and thank them. Then run your verification
agent. If the agent finds discrepancies, let it suggest matches and
send an email to the user letting her know and asking her to take
some action. I have never seen this done, but think it might work.


Dimiter Simov
Lucrat Ltd. www.lucrat.net
Netage Solutions Inc. www.netagesolutions.com

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Posted from the new ixda.org

21 Feb 2010 - 12:31pm

Hi Marcus,

Depends on what you want to achieve from users of the form. If you
require users to fill in the correct address, and if that address is
already stored in a database, you might as well show hints of the
address and have the system suggest for auto fill into the fields for
your users. This similar to the AJAX dropdown search results that you
see as you type into google search box. If the address is for
performing any authentications then the above may not serve right.

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Posted from the new ixda.org

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