Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Bad Forms

A site I frequent has a nice little local weather update shown on its sidebar. Now, I get my local weather forecasts delivered on my desktop through a Konfabulator widget, The Weather, and have been reasonably happy with it. Also, considering that in the web design circles, not too many bloggers are from Mumbai, I thought it'd be a nice touch to add to my site.

After some digging, I discovered that my weather feeds are coming from Over at their site, they have tools to display the current local weather on my site, and was very pleased with it at first glance, until I discovered that I have to register to use it.

I have to say, I have issues with registering for services, especially free ones. I can cite various reasons why I do not and probably should not register. Most web designers must know that users do not like to register on a site. If they don't, they don't make for good web designers.

Aaagh! Let me get to my point.

Have a look at this form I had to fill to register. Done? Now, let me list my peeves out.

  • The form says that fields marked with the red asterisk are required fields. Is it just me, or do you find it funny too that every field has this red asterisk next to it?
  • Really, do they need my first name, last name, date of birth (what?), and gender (whaaaaat???) so that I can sign up for a weather service?
  • The address (and its various fields) are also marked with that asterisk. However, the state I belong to here in India is Maharashtra, which isn't listed there. In fact, none of the Indian states are listed there at all! Wait, it's only American states listed there? Maybe the developers forgot that The Internet is a worldwide network, and America is not the only place in the world? Wonder why they hired developers like that! Required field, you say? What do I select now?
  • Oh, hang on. They have a option where I can change the country from USA to India. However, I found that only after I found the 'State' dropdown box. Smart layout, I must say!
  • Oh, I am wrong again. Changing the country is of no consequence to the list of states. Even if I select "India", the states shown are all American! Smart!
  • Here in India, our pin codes are 6 digits long. However, I can only enter 5 digits in that box they have on their page. Let me guess, America has 5 digit pins?
  • Notice, I have not talked about concepts like accessibility yet. Obviously (or, the impression that I get without doing my right click > view source is that) the form is not the least bit accessible to other kinds of browsers.
I must say, it is really irritating when companies like this just assume that their audience is only American. The Internet is not just about America, you know. Don't make me fill forms which require my local information, without doing a study of what local information looks like outside your locality. In any case, when designing a form, please don't assume that America is the world. And please do not ask for stupid irrelevant information, like my gender. By the way, would you also mind giving a little thought to this little thing called 'Usability', while you are at it?

Sorry I do not like you any more. I know you'll probably say "So what?", but that doesn't help improve your image. Quite the contrary, in fact.

May the web design community use that form as an example of badly designed forms. When you see forms like this, you can put one hand your stomach, point the index finger of your other hand to the screen, tilt your head backwards slightly, and laugh out loud with your stomach bobbing rhythmically up and down.


Anonymous said...

hi rakesh,

this post of urs is seriously funny. i am grinnin from ear to ear even as i write this!. i have encountered the dropdown menu problems even while signing up for email accounts. well though it is hilarious to narrate the experience later on , it's damn irritating when u filling online forms!

neways this was my 1st visit to ur blog. n u got me gripped!! cu.

Anonymous said...

'Rawking post!..I cant stop laughing, you are so right I hate filling out forms too. Just today I filled out an insuarance form that wanted to know the exact date I mensturated last time, and if I am pregnant. I couldnt for the life of me see the significance of giving them that very personal info. 'Usablity' is both an online and an offline problem. I dont know where these forms are designed in...some kind of 'chinese torture sweatshops

Anonymous said...

Still, far from being the worst form out there. Usability is not their business, it's weather. And *you* want the feeds. So try to be nice.

Have to say that this comment system here at Blogger is kinda weird. Have you not been thinking about your own *site*?


Rakesh Pai said...

It's quite a consolation to know they aren't the worst out there (sarcasm intended). ;-)

I could do well without using their feeds. I am sure their competition would have caught up with them. I just have to find out who that is.

One of the points I wanted to make is that this is an example of what companies and web designers should not do.

Yes, the blogger comment system is weird. I should tell Doug Bowman about it. And yes, I do intend to put up my own site. As soon I get around to doing it, that is. I am giving a serious look at Wordpress, if you have to ask.

Anonymous said...

Rakesh, sorry for being sort of on side the other day :) . You are right of course. And assuming American only audience might be easily the most annoying thing. I live in Latvia, so I should know.

Like your blog, nice writing here! You do deserve your own site. Wordpress sounds like a good choice. I know it does take a lot of time. In particular, if you want the site be *nice*, which must be your case.


Manu Sharma said...

If you use Firefox, there's a great extension for weather forecasts called ForecastFox. It uses as well but thankfully there are no forms.

And oh, you should probably tell folks at Adaptive Path about the blogger commenting system. I've noticed this as well.

Btw, if you're seeing a sudden spurt in traffic to your blog, that's becuase someone posted a link to your web apps post in the Interaction Designers discussion list. That's good summary of the advantages of web apps.

sanjana said...

I like your blog! INTERESTING! Glad to be here! :o)

Anonymous said...

The worst case (or best example) of non-internationalisation I can remember!

I tried filling in the Country box to see if it forwarded to another form with no state box, (don't need them in UK). Had to enter a password to submit the empty (country only) form, and when I clicked submit, the password changed!
This could be a JavaScript hash function but that would be bad anyway - potentially reduces security robustness, not to mention the shock and confustion it invokes when you press submit!

When the form came back it was still in Amercans-only mode.

Having all personal data *required is weird and off-putting, putting and astrix* on each field instead of stating "all fields are required" is idiotic.

Error messages!
The page is obviously not well coded, as under the password box it says in red letters: "please enter your first name"!!!

Anonymous said...

and the worst thing is it might have been developed by an Indian programmer