Data input annoyances

Jacob’s latest column is pretty much on the money.

I’m super busy with Earth Hour at the moment, so these comments will be brief.

  • At NETaccounts, a huge amount of effort has gone into (and continues to go into) making sure that the user can type in values, and we encourage that by using auto-complete and other mechanisms where possible. We did this because we watched how experienced and inexperienced users used NETaccounts and other software. Providing lists helps and hinders, depending on the user. Answer – intelligently support both.
  • I currently use a site that was developed by someone else. Care was not taken with data input (e.g. not auto-including “http://” at the front of URLs when not entered by the user) and it is costing us days worth of human-hours to fix.
  • Drop-down menus are pretty sucky on Mac browsers (Firefox and Safari both make them difficult to use, especially for mouse-less navigation – Camino get’s it right). Even more reason to avoid them.
  • Sites that don’t allow spaces and basic punctuation for phone numbers really annoy me. +61 (0)2 9123-4567 is a valid phone number – even for a local person. Allow for more than 10 digits to allow for international numbers. Strip the punctuation on the server side if you need to, but let the user enter in what they want. This bites hard, particularly on highly trafficked sites.

Anyone got any other usability annoyances they want to share?