Post-validation, pre-validation… or no validation – Part 2

We took a look at Amazon last time, and saw how they performed their address validation. In a nutshell, after the user types in their full address details, Amazon matches the entered record against its own data and suggests alternatives – we described this as a post-validation method, which, in our view is tantamount to shutting the door after the horse has bolted!

This time we’ll take a look at a different way to collect users’ addresses, using one of our own customers, Graze.com, as an example.

Graze.com sends regular healthy snacks through the post, direct to your office. They aren’t really known outside of the UK, but demonstrate very capably what is achievable if you can ensure your customers are entering correct data. With some of the LOVEFiLM team on board with Graze, it’s not the first time this kind of “pop it in the post” business model has been used to great effect. It’s also pretty easy to imagine how important getting the exact address is, too.

Quick and simple

The way the website is laid out is, in a purely technical sense, reminiscent of the Neteller website we investigated earlier in the year. There’s a big, friendly, straightforward button with a clear call to action as soon as you land on the site.

Fortunately, this is not where the usability best practice ends. Note the emphasis on usability here: when we move to handing over our name and email address, there is in fact no validation and we are not asked to type in our email twice. Crazy? It’s a measured decision made to curb drop-out, as Graze.com’s CTO and co-founder Tom Percival explains here.

For a high-volume, low-margin business, these are all considerations which must be weighed up. And when that kind of decision is made over the email field, imagine the effect on conversion rates if Amazon’s post-validation policy were adopted. The effect could in fact be catastrophic for business! Instead, we have this friendly-looking box:

This is where Graze.com excels: it has managed to reduce all those messy forms, and all the time associated with filling them out, into one simple box which takes seconds to fill out. On top of that, all the data is completely accurate. Unlike with the email fields, nothing is compromised with this style of address entry: it’s accurate data, entered faster and easier.

When we enter the postal code, we’re given a simple list of pre-validated options to choose from:

…and with that one click, the onerous task of filling out your address details, and ensuring they’ve been entered correctly, is completed.

While it’s clear to see how this kind of usability is essential for a business like Graze.com, it’s hard to see why you’d choose to effectively waste your customers’ time leading them through a post-validation process like Amazon’s – not to mention the awful implications of not verifying the data at all.

Here’s a breakdown of a few key differences:

Of course, there are barriers to adoption in international territories – but they can’t lag behind forever!

We’ll take a look at how we feel this kind of rapid, seamless “omni-box” type technology can advance the data capture industry even further next month.