Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Web Form FAILs

386 words

While the web did improve considerably in the past decade I keep being impressed by developers’ insistence on creating broken forms.

Broken as in: refusing or breaking reasonable looking input for no apparent reason. Non-ASCII characters are always good things to try if you want to see high-tech FAIL.

For example when buying Arcade Fire’s Reflektor album online with Topspin media, their site (a sweet home to broken web design), kept marking the city name “Göttingen” as an error by marking it red and refusing to submit the form. Of course it did not tell me what exactly it considered wrong with that correct input, but luckily I know the “ö” to be good at finding programmer failure.

Screenshot of Topspin order form refusing to accept the city name “Göttingen”. The first name is given as “Sven”

Note that in that form I did not even try to use my first name as I usually do but I left it at “Sven” only. Which of course is not what is in my passport or on my credit card, so I am a bit weary to use the “wrong” name there. To their credit: the credit card company has not complained so far about such minor differences in name. But I am a bit uneasy using the “wrong” name on airline tickets given the horrendous amount of mindless rule-following and stupidity in the airline and associated “security” businesses (yet I keep being forced to enter the “wrong” name due to the brokenness of many aviation industry systems, as first seen with Lufthansa a decade ago).

When filling another form recently – one that I suspect to be completely unrelated to ancient legacy systems as they may exist in airlines – I was reminded that even that bug remains alive and kicking. And the website recommended I should please check your first name. Err thanks:

Form by congstar asking to please check my first name.

I will be the first person to agree that input validation is important and I do appreciate efforts to validate input. With that in mind, I completely fail to understand why developers do not try to make their systems and databases as open minded as possible for the values they accept. In the case of names and place names that would reduce both users’ frustration and the effort needed to validate inputs, because that global range customers simply do have names and addresses that do not fit a 1960s American mindset.

December 3, 2013, 21:08

Tagged as webdesign.

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