Humans shouldn’t be forced to enter phone numbers or zip codes in special formats for machines. Instead, machines should take what we give them, and nicely format them for us.
A text message fraud alert from the bank seems like a good idea to me! So while doing some banking on Chase’s otherwise excellent online banking system, I signed up for it. I didn’t have a lot of time, and all they needed was my mobile number. Right?
No, not quite. I had to enter my mobile number in the right way , too. This could be better in a number of ways:
The form fields didn’t use labels or hints to guide my text entry. How could I know you wanted dashes, versus (312) parenthesis, etc.?
The angry red warning message is actually wrong. My phone number is exactly correct; it’s the format that’s wrong. At least be honest: you want me to jump through your special dashes-hoops.
But, why do this at all? It’s a very simple process for a web application to parse through a phone number and separate out the area code, prefix, and suffix of the number. Why should I do this for the computer?
While a text message fraud alert system seems like a great idea, I’m left feeling like it’s going to be a trouble. If it’s this hard to get working to start, how can I trust it with something as sensitive as banking fraud?
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