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Why you shouldn't list every country in your "country" dropdown

Most websites have a contact or signup form that allows visitors to their site to lodge their details.  Now I don’t know about you, but what frustrates me is being confronted with a massive “country” dropdown that contains every country in the world.

Let’s boil this down.  You’re doing business in Australia.  If you are doing business (or getting leads) from overseas that’s also great.  Now the temptation is “I should list all countries” in my online forms.   Here is the result:

(Go on and give it a try).

Frustrated yet?

So the questions you need to ask yourself:

  1. Will I really get enquiries / sales from “Djibouti”, “Eritrea” or “Kyrgyzstan”?
  2.  Do you WANT to get enquiries / sales from Iran, Afghanstan, Indonesia?  Note: if you are selling online, are you sure you want to take the risks of sending to 3rd world countries?
  3. Are users in these countries even going to be able to access your website?  Most of North Korean citizens don’t have enough to eat – I doubt they have an internet connection.
  4. Do I want to frustrate the hell out of users from countries that are going to make up 99% of enquiries / sales by having an excessively long dropdown?

The psychology

Finally, by only listing countries that you are really going to do business with clearly identifies to those users that you are specialising in doing business with their country.