Geek Smithology

September 5, 2006

Unusable at any Speed

Filed under: Craft of Dev,Industry by Nathan @ 8:56 pm

Just a little while after I praised eBay for their outstanding search UI, I get the following message:

bad error message

Here I thought I was adding a message to my auction that would be sent as email. However, apparently some unfrozen caveman user hater at eBay would rather I spend a few unprofitable seconds as amateur copy editor, constricting myself to some strange circle of hell in which the content I am allowed to place onto the internet and into an email cannot contain text that is valid on the internet and in email. They did throw a nice cherry of insult on top of this delicious sundae of injury by placing the following friendly text in the edit window:

Note: The user you are contacting is registered on another eBay site and may speak a different language. Your message will be sent exactly as typed below.

Evidently, there is some dimension in which the grammatical laws of our everyday world do not apply, and exactly has some alternate meaning of which I am unaware. There are no excuses for not allowing HTML, quotes, or asterisks. Oh wait, there are a thousand and one exuses…starting with, oh, I don’t know…lazy developers who hate their users and think that telling me I need to strip HTML, quotes, and asterisks in an error message AFTER I’VE HIT SEND constitutes due dilligence in the interaction design department. So I’ll amend that to say there are no defensible excuses for not allowing HTML, quotes, or asterisks.

Remember, our applications are not there to be admired for how well they are implemented, but to get the f**k out of the way so users can DO SOMETHING INTERESTING! So the next time you’re developing a web form, don’t make the users think about how to enter their phone number or credit card information, make it obvious.

If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. If your app isn’t helping your users kick ass, then chances are that they’ll want to kick yours.

One response to “Unusable at any Speed”

  1. Ron Thomas says:

    I think I would want to kick thier ass. There is no excuse for having such a message in these days of Ajaxian web applications. At the very least if they wanted to keep this restriction the site should let the user know as they fill in the field, not at submit time.

    There is nothing worse than waiting a few seconds after filling out a form to discover that you need to correct something. A simple client site check should be trivial…..

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