I'm looking for advice on localizing address fields. I'm designing a UI that
could potentially be used by folks in a large number of countries. The
target user profile is a small business owner who uses a computer to get her
job done, but is not technically savvy.
Different countries use different terms to represent similar information.
For example, the U.S. uses "zip code", but all other countries seem to use
"postal code." Similarly, the U.S. uses "state" where other countries use
"province," "region," or "prefecture."
To reduce development effort, we're thinking of using "or" to combine
different country's terms in the field labels. For example, for all
countries, we might use "Zip or postal code" for the postal code field. For
a subset of countries, we might use "region or province" for the
Here are my questions about this approach:
* Does anyone know of strong cultural reasons to avoid combining
terms, particularly for audiences in the U.S., U.K., Germany, France,
Canada, or Japan? For example, I've heard that Europeans are annoyed by
forms using "Zip code". Would they also be annoyed by forms using "zip or
* Does anyone know of strong usability reasons to avoid combining
terms? I would think the "or" will slow down users down when they are
entering the information, but that might be an acceptable tradeoff as long
as it doesn't increase errors.
* Is it better to replace the "or" with a "/"? I always thought good
writing should avoid using "/". However a lot of address forms use
"Zip/postal code", so I am wondering if people have gotten used to this.
* Does combing the terms make the field label more difficult to
* Would it be acceptable to use "Postal code" for a U.S. audience?
I'd appreciate any other advice you might have on this topic.