Redress for Addressing

While shopping online, I found the form completion experience to require too much application ping-pong, bouncing back and forth between my address book (OD4Contact) and my browser (OmniWeb) to double-check details. To hopefully eliminate this, I envision the following sequence:

  1. Having chosen a gift for their friend Pat Smith, the user proceeds with the transaction, arriving at an online shipping form:

    An empty Amazon shipping form

    The user needs to fill out the form with some of this:

    Pat's address book card

  2. Rather than repeatedly switching between windows to look at the information they need, the user selects a contact using either…
    1. The People Picker.
    2. A toolbar button to open a contact selector

    3. Drag-and-drop of the contact’s card, from the user’s address book application or a vCard file. The browser would accept the dropped card as a data source rather than as a text file to be displayed. If a group vCard is dropped, the user would first have to choose an individual from among the contacts in the group.

      Dropping a vCard in a form field

  3. If multiple possibilities exist for a needed piece of information (address, phone number, etc.), the People Picker would allow the user to select among them. The page’s form fields would be filled in as the user moved through the selection prompt(s) (assuming one is necessary).
    1. Pat’s address card has two addresses, so the user must pick one to which their gift will be shipped.

      Pat Smith's work address is chosen

    2. Same with the telephone number; the user must choose from those available.

      Pat Smith's work phone number is chosen next

  4. The form is completed and only requires that the user review and submit it.

    A completed Amazon shipping form

Sure, every online seller could provide online address book functionality to make it easier for their customers to complete necessary forms, but I’d much rather see the browser developers provide a solution that could work with any site.

Some people may find it useful to be able to view vCards in their browser, but I think this feature should be deprecated in favor of using the contact information. If you really want to look at the raw source of a vCard, use a text editor!

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