Validation Blind Spots Hurt Real Users

A friend of mine lives on Bonieta Harrold Drive. I live on a Windsor Hill Drive. Both of us have a problem in common, which is that poorly designed software is incapable of accepting the length of our street address. For me, American Express refuses to accept more than “WINDSOR HILL D”, which still arrives at our home. I can’t imagine if my friend ever got an American Express card, since given the maximum length available for an address, he would live on “BONIETA HARROL”. If you live in a place where direction (e.g. NW, SW, SE) matter, not having enough space can be extraordinarily problematic to the proper delivery of mail and packages if there is not enough room for the whole address.

Clearly, these software systems have a design flaw. That design flaw is that the programmers responsible for programming the software assumed that 20 characters (house number and street information) was long enough for a standard address. It’s likely that in the best case, developers picked 20 characters based on some given experience (e.g. they considered all the street names in their own town in conjunction with known house number lengths, and came to an answer) or worse, simply picked a number out of thin air. Real users are worse off because of it.


Sunday, April 3rd, 2011 @ 9:29 pm | Comment (6) | Categories: Usability, Best Practices, Technology
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Data Formatting: It IS Our Job

It’s happened to each and every one of us: we fill out a long form, complete with username and password. We double and triple check everything, because want to make sure the submission works. We verify our email address, our date of birth, and even maybe retype our password, just to make sure they’re both right and they both match. And then we fill out the CAPTCHA, with so much care (passing those things is still random, whether you’re a human or not). And then we hit submit.

And we wait. Breathless.


Monday, December 7th, 2009 @ 1:00 am | Comment (18) | Categories: Usability, Best Practices, Technology
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