How to collect address information from users.


Postcode and county fields

Royal Mail say that you don’t need to include a county if you have a postcode and town. Does this also mean that you don’t need to include a postcode if you have a town and county?


Test results from pattern #1 - free text box compared with #2 - multiple fields 
Open Address UK did some address entry user research  - qualitative testing (9 users) of free text box (which they describe as 'one single address field') against multiple fields. The results were mixed: some users preferred free text box, others preferred multiple fields. Users were faster with free text box, but ended up with more errors in the address. They made more mistakes to start with on multiple fields, corrected them as they moved address elements around, and ended up with fewer errors in the end.
The forms they used had some usability errors such as use of placeholders for example text, so those usability errors may have influenced the results. 

Examples on GOV.UK

Register to vote
The 'Register to vote' process requires the applicant's postcode in order to find the correct voting authority.
Lasting Power of Attorney
Here's how it works for LPA: 
We are adopting this pattern at DVLA for VMPR services. Has anyone had any discussions about character length or truncation of addresses which go beyond the character limit of a single line?
We are testing the ugly hyphenation option but also reviewing an automatic update of the font size, to retain the address line 1 in a single line. This obviously requires JS but I would be interested to know if anyone else has considered the options.
Here are some screenshots where we are focusing on the content in the fields where we have moved from the multiple field pattern for address search to the address finder pattern which proved very popular in research and testing.
So we have moved from this:
to this:
So, as you can see, we lose almost 30% of the width of the input fieldsure we have a way of displaying the information to the user as cleanly and possible.
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