Friday, November 2, 2007

Web Form Silliness and Inefficiency

Why o' why do I continue to come across web forms that ask for my phone number, in a free form field, that then error if I enter dashes ("805-555-1212") because they require re-input without any dashes ("8055551212"). Isn't this the age of computers? Can't we be bothered to write the extra line of code to let humans input the data in the way most familiar with them? Can't we store the data generically and process it as appropriate for input/display? Aren't computers supposed to make data management easier? Wouldn't allowing the human to enter the data in a more familiar way reduce typos and errors?

The latest culprit was

Do any of YOUR web forms do this? Check now before you say no. :)

P.S. And, while I'm on the topic, why do we even bother asking for the state if we've already got the zip code? Heck, ask for the zip first and auto fill-in the city field too (I realize zip code to city mapping is sometimes erroneous, that's why I suggested just auto-filling the field, so the user still has the ability to edit it, on that one). Can't this all be looked up automatically? There are database downloads, web services, and CD-ROMs that make this information available, right? Why make it harder for people to do business with you? Why increase the chance of data errors?


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