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Friday, July 26, 2013

The lost art of User Interface Design?

I have recently had to visit over 100 websites of different types, fill out forms of different types with all sorts of information required.  I have been appalled at the horribly low quality of human engineering that goes into these designs in 2013!

We have more powerful technology available to us today than we have ever had, yet web form designers seem to be stuck in the dark ages.

Just today I visited nearly twenty different sites asking me for both personal information and info about my company.  I dutifully filled out the forms, but was appalled when:

I was not properly prompted for amounts in amount fields, dates in date fields, and none of these errors appeared until I hit the submit button!  Then to add injury to insult all of my entries were cleared and I had re-enter everything.  One side had a prompt "Enter amount as $100,000 annual fee" which you would presume wanted the text!  I have no idea what they wanted as I tried everything I could think of and nothing worked...  You guessed it I had to start over each time I hit submit...

In today's world with AJAX, JavaScript, PHP, Java and other sophisticated web development tools there is no excuse for web forms that do not validate entries in real time and prompt the user for the correct formats.  Heck with AJAX you can validate in real time against a remote database.

One of my pet peeves is why web sites that require name and addresses do not do things like look up the City and State (for US locations) from the Zip Code?  This is simple SOA call to the USPS web services.  It makes life easy for the user and validates your address entry process!

Do you recall when we eliminated "Systems Analysts" creating a morphed monster called a "Programmer Analyst"?  We lost all of the business expertise of the "Systems Analysts" and got programmers who needed help finding their home after work!  It appears that companies that once employed human factors engineers or at least people well trained in UI design have let those folks go and now have a trained ape developing web pages!

We bring new and exciting technologies like speech recognition at unthinkable levels of quality, or Big Data analysis that can understand written posts on web sites and make perform incredible analysis of the written word to the point of determining if an author is male or female by their writing style.

Wonderful new things every day, but we can't validate a number field?  HELLO?