Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Challenge o' the day:  making our modules/web apps "foolproof".
A couple of salient quotes:
"A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools."
      ---Douglas Adams
"His priority did not seem to be to teach them what he knew, but rather to impress upon them that nothing, not even... knowledge, was foolproof."
      ---- JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
Specifically, I'm working on a registration/ login page in a Flash environment.  I think two input boxes, one labeled 'email' and the other labeled 'password', is quite sufficient and self-explanatory.  I've got a little blurb that says something like "if this is your first time here, the password you enter will become the password needed on any future visits"... and there's even a "forgot your password?" link.  There's also a "submit" button.   Sure, there will be some people that think, "but I don't have a password" or " I can't remember my password" or something, but those will be few... and a necessary evil.
However, in an effort to make the thing "foolproof", I'm now having to put two buttons on the front page, one buttons "Click here if this is your first time visiting this page"... which then takes you to a new frame that says "Enter your corporate Email address in the box that's labeled 'email'... then choose a password and enter that into the box labeled 'password'.  The password you type will be obscured for your safety, so please write it down before you enter it"  Please forget the fact that writing it down on a piece of paper completely forgoes the reason it's obscured in the first place.... but anyway....
The other button on the front page says "Click here if you've already registered and want to login".   Then you go to a page that says most of the same stuff, except for "Enter the password you chose during registration in the box labeled 'password'".
THEN... after you log in, there's a screen that says "You've successfully logged in, click here to continue".
So basically, two form fields and a short sentence on a single page turned into four pages, with paragraphs on each.  All in the name of "foolproofing".
From experience, I can tell you I'll be getting about 10 calls a day for the next 3 weeks, with people having problems logging on.

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