Tuesday, March 3, 2009


It's a small thing, I know. But for someone who shops online and registers for websites as much as I do, I've always wondered why they can't determine my city and state based on my ZIP code. How much time is spent scrolling through the list of states for something that ought to be automatic, right? Oh, to live in Alabama or American Samoa. Well, not really. But I'll take Alaska, Sarah Palin and all!

Well, just now I was placing a bid in the KNPR Online Auction -- not telling for what, but no, it's not for lunch with myself, har har, which, in fact, I am having right now for free! -- and I had to give a new credit card. And much to my surprise, the system automatically knew that 89121 was Las Vegas, NV.

At first, I couldn't believe it, so I tried my childhood ZIP code:

That worked, too! Hooray! Now, why don't more sites do this? Too logical?


Tom M. said...

I totally agree with you on this. I have never understood why they can't use zip codes to fill in city/state automatically.

Anonymous said...

Only reason is lazy developers basically.

Zip code databases are even freely available these days (there was a time when you had to purchase this info) so there's little excuse other than it not being in the budget for the project.


Anonymous said...

This is standard in the UK - has been for ages. But I guess we have a lot less areas to deal with.

Most places will just ask for the post code (read zip code) and the number of your house. The street name, town, county,etc is then automatically filled in.

Steve G said...

Like Hunter said, this used to be a pain point because you could not get ZIP code databases without paying money.

You want another common web form pet peeve? Rejecting my phone number because it wasn't in the format you were expecting. Please.
Just filter out .-() and blank space, and if you have the number of digits left that you were expecting, cool. Then reformat into whatever canonical form you want in your DB and away you go.