Friday, March 24, 2006

Stupid web site tricks, part I

In general, websites have gotten less annoying as time goes by, as more companies, and more website designers become aware of generally accepted design principles. Or are at least supervised by someone with a little common sense. Back in the mid-90s one would hit all kinds of garish color schemes, screaming, blinking, scrolling, and flashing headlines and graphics. Much less of that around now, thank-you. Of course, about 2/3 of the total Internet bandwidth is taken up with ads, but on average, even those are less of an annoyance than they used to be.

But some bad habits seem harder to break. Particularly on input forms. Big retail sites are getting their act together, as they have financial incentive to do so. But otherwise, there seems to be people just looking for dumb ways to annoy me. Like these:
  1. Confirmation fields for e-mail address. It makes no sense to have a "confirmation" field when I can see the original field right there! Of course, I just copy and paste, but it's stupid. Especially for an e-mail address. Verify it correctly, or leave me alone.
  2. Confirmation fields for socialist security number on the Ohio I-File website. Repeat now sentences 2 and 3 above. I'd still like to know how the state of Ohio got the authority to demand my federal slave number, even for a driver's license.
  3. Being forced to enter long numbers (in particular cedit card numbers, but in this case, socialist security number) with no spaces, no hyphens. That's a sure sign of an incompetent form designer. It is trivial for a computer program to remove spaces and hyphens, if you really want it that way. Did it never occur to these imbeciles that the spaces and hyphens are there for a reason? Maybe I could "confirm" it myself if I could see it the way it normally is written.
Of course, Ohio has no [voluntary] paying customers, so I suppose they don't have much incentive to get it right or make it easy for me. But retail sites had better start getting some common sense involved in their design process.


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