Why the government needs autocomplete

In a blog on their website, the government has revealed that they are building their own autocomplete tool, otherwise known as typeahead technology, on gov.uk. To begin with, they have created a country and territory picker, which will allow users to search and enter their country quickly and easily, without the need to type the entire country name. As users start typing, relevant options will be listed and narrowed down. Google has been offering autocomplete since 2004, making search quicker and easier for users. It isn’t a new form of technology, but it is great to see that the government is following suit. Not only is this a positive step for the government, but it will hopefully encourage more businesses and organisations to use similar technology.

According to Gov.uk’s Ed Horsford, the decision to use autocomplete was predominantly down to creating a better UX for visitors to the site, as well as the need for accurate, up to date data.

Autocomplete will help ensure that the different services within the government site are capturing more consistent data, which is particularly relevant for countries like the United Kingdom, where there are different aliases – UK, Great Britain, GB, England, Wales, etc. It also has the capacity to correct typos too, bringing up the correct spelling of the country despite user errors – great for anyone trying to type on fiddly keyboards on small devices.

location-picker-general-gov uk

It’s great to see that companies and organisations are starting to see the importance of autocomplete. By using typeahead technology, companies save their web visitors time, reducing the amount of typing necessary to enter their details and keeping them focused, and they greatly reduce the need to cleanse their data. By making sure they have accurate and up to date data in their system, companies increase their ability to communicate with customers.

Interested in learning how you can benefit from autocomplete?