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RE: State Abbreviations in Dropdown - Permitted?


From: Andrew Kirkpatrick
Date: Dec 3, 2005 11:40AM

At 13:17 02/12/2005, Andrew wrote, replying to Jukka:
> > No, they aren't. Billions of people never heard of them. Even
> > though the page is presumably meant for US residents
> > primarily, the potential users might be immigrants, refugees,
> > or other people who do not know the customary abbreviations
> > used in the US. This would be serious discrimination.
>I think that "serious discrimination" is a stretch. The page is
>probably in English (we'll put aside whether that is a more or less
>serious issue for now) so the user needs to have a basic understanding
>of the language. They get to a drop down list that is probably preceded
>by "state:". I would think that it's pretty clear that these 2-letter
>codes clearly must represent the list of states in the US since the user
>is typing in a US mailing address.

I'm with Jukka on this one. Faced with a list of state abbreviations
I have to make educated guesses for most of them!

>The mapping between the codes and the state names is readily available
>and in U.S. English are very common usage. Someone outside the country
>or new to the country may not have heard of "Rhode Island" or "RI", but
>if one wants to send mail there it is not unreasonable to expect that
>they will learn this. We also expect that the user puts in a zip code,
>for which there is no expanded version - is that also serious
> > On the other hand, a dropdown menu with 50 options is a
> > serious obstacle for many reasons. Would you like to hear 49
> > abbreviations read for you before finally reaching your
> > state? Moreover, such menus cause severe technical
> > complications in many browsers, and they aren't good for
> > useability, since the user typically needs to scroll down and
> > make a selection in a clumsy way.
>I find that they are highly usable. I don't listen to 49 options, I
>type "m" to get to the m's and then move to MA. If I want to scan the
>list I can use pageup/down to page through the list. If I am looking
>for Zaire in a list of countries I can hit 'end' to move to the bottom
>of the list.
>What technical complications do you mean?

This assumes everyone knows the shortcuts *you* are so familiar with, Andrew.

In addition, I, as someone who has indifferent and varying motor
control, find long drop-down lists can be a big nuisance on days when
my muscles do what they want to, not what I want them to. Give me a
text box every time!

>Lists are also good for users who are bad spellers or who have mobility
>impairments - they can save typing (although not much in a list of state
>abbreviations) and ensure accuracy.

See above - I disagree on a purely personal level.

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