Tech Stuff

Bad Usability! Bad!

Here are two screen caps from a web application I just had to use to pay a tuition bill.

Presumably developed by professionals, and no doubt it is expensive. Assuming the usual for academic IT applications, an absolute fortune. Here are the terms-and-conditions to which one agrees.

Standards of usability, anyone? Why am I in this end of the business?

As an extra bonus, I tried putting my telephone number into the box using my preferred form of 123.456.1234. It rejected it as invalid, but didn’t suggest what would be a valid formula.

It turns out there are several ways to program in a user-friendly test for telephone numbers. There are several ways outlined here, the simplest of which is to take the user-entered string and strip out all non-numeric characters. If you’ve got seven numbers left, it’s a US telephone number. Then, when you display it, format it however you like.

Or this. If you’re a fan of the famous e-mail address regex, you’ll appreciate:

^(?:(?:\+?1\s*(?:[.-]\s*)?)?(?:\(\s*([2-9]1[02-9]|[2-9][02-8]1|[2-9][02-8][02-9])\s*\)|([2-9]1[02-9]|[2-9][02-8]1|[2-9][02-8][02-9]))\s*(?:[.-]\s*)?)?([2-9]1[02-9]|[2-9][02-9]1|[2-9][02-9]{2})\s*(?:[.-]\s*)?([0-9]{4})(?:\s*(?:#|x\.?|ext\.?|extension)\s*(\d+))?$
Tom
Tom McGee has been building web sites since 1995, and blogging here since 2006. Currently a senior developer at Seton Hall University, he's also a freelance web programmer and musician. Contact him if you have the need for a blog, web site, redesign or custom programming!

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