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Always improving the postcode lookup user experience

Published on Oct 15, 2015

Forgiving UX

When using a postcode lookup widget on a website you come across numerous errors and validation faux pas.

  • Requiring a space
  • Spaces being invalid characters
  • Needing to use uppercase
  • Someone not handling six and seven character lengths

A lot of these different scenarios require the user's input to be pre filtered and sanitised to check you have something that looks like a postcode. This is often before you have even sent it off to an address look up service.

Having seen many instances of these errors, along with some of the common mistakes that users make when entering UK postcodes, we have made our service very forgiving. Doing the hard work to make it simple as Government Digital Service say.

So when searching for addresses using the postcode with PostCoder Web, your users can:-

  • Use upper, lower or even mixed case
  • Include a space or not
  • Use a 5 when you meant S or o when you meant 0 (amongst others)
  • Search for an old postcode that's been replaced
  • Even leave the shift key on for numbers, we know when you probably meant 4 rather than $

In fact that last one represents about 1.48% of searches, which at scale can be quite a lot of searches.

All we ask is for your developer to use their programming language's URL encoding function to provide us the postcode.

We will then search against the daily updated address data from Royal Mail and give you a list of the addresses you and your users were looking for, rather than making you jump through too many hoops or see lots of error messages.

Also if your users don't know their postcode (or live somewhere a postcode is less useful) they can also search by an address fragment such as the first line and a town/city. We even handle typos well with address fragments, such as "allys commuting" still finds Allies Computing.

Of course sometimes we will have to say we couldn't find anything, but we are always monitoring errors to see if we can improve further.

Find out more about our postcode lookup API and try it for yourself »

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