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May 17, 2007

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» Reducing User Interface Friction from Coding Horror
Tantek Çelik recently wrote a great entry on cognitive load in user interface, comparing instant messaging and email: To instant message (IM) someone, you merely: switch to your IM client double click their name type your message press return... [Read More]

Comments

Kevin Dente

What kills me is sites that ask you to "confirm" your email address by entering it twice. Even though it's clear text and unobscured (unlike passwords). Mystifying.

Olga Howard

I was directed to your blog today. You gave me a great idea: See my post - http://olgahow.com/?p=57

Jacob Wyke

Yeah I also hate the double entry of email addresses...but the one thing that really annoys me is two separate fields for the first and last name - just take my whole name and split it if you want to display my first name!

Jason

Jacob: There's actually a good reason for that, it's just not the one most programmers fall back on (laziness). In some cultures it's common to use what we'd consider the first and middle names as the first name. To use only the first word can be somewhere between overly-familiar and offensive.

You could always have your regex look for the final space instead of the first (and hope westerners don't use their middle initials/names) but that's also a minor risk. The alternative I've seen on some sites is a space for your displayed name. I tend to prefer first/last boxes because they give me all the information I need unambiguously and involves (almost) the least amount of typing for the user.

Same deal with addresses. It's easy for a form to work for the US and Canada, but for everyone else you basically just need to put up five lines and say "tell me what to put on the envelope". And phone numbers, etc. Too often us programmers can forget about the "world wide" part of the World Wide Web.

Daelin the Cruel

I absolutely hate sites that require authentication for stupid things like the ability to post in forums (a very common reason to need yet another username and password). Practically everybody does it, and as a result, I have a password list for 73 different sites that didn't have open accounts available on bugmenot.com. At least one of them sold my address to those Viagra spammers. Those are just for the sites I thought I might come back to. Sometimes, when I come back to a site, I end up creating a brand new username and password, cluttering the site's password database, denying them critical marketing information, and wasting my time simultaneously.

If a service doesn't require that "you really are who you say you are"-ness that occurs when money is involved, it shouldn't even have authentication.
It was one thing back in the days of the bulletin board systems. It's simply out of hand today.

Mike

Then there are the times you go through all this and it doesn't work.

I was trying to register with CSAA (an automobile club), but the emailed link to confirm my email resulted in an error. Cutting and pasting resulted in the same error as clicking the link.

Although customer support got back to me, their solution didn't fix the problem. I finally gave up. I couldn't waste any more time on something I had expected to take 5 minutes.

The reason you confirm your email address is that people make typos all the time. With double entry, the system has a chance to catch the typo some of the time. Doesn't work if you cut and paste the typo, however.

Mike

Daelin,

How funny that they make you register, supposedly to prevent spam comments, then you end up with spam email. Not good.

Kylene

Thanks for writing this.

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