Some days I’m embarrassed to be a software developer.

My employer just switched brokerage firms, so I have to go to the new firm’s website to register my account. So far:

– The registration page doesn’t allow punctuation in my userID, so I can’t use my e-mail address. I have to choose yet another impossible-to-remember, minimum 8-character userID. At least they have a “remember my userid” checkbox on the login page.
– There is a “Password Hint” feature for lost passwords. There are only four questions. The answer cannot contain spaces (making “who is your favorite teacher” hard to answer). The hint response is not displayed, so you can’t see what you’ve typed, but you only enter it once, so you can’t be sure it is correct.
– I entered my phone number in +1.416.555.1212 format (the ITU/ISO international standard for such things). It was re-written as 14165551212; I wonder what their employees will do with that if they ever try to call me? I’m actually kind of surprised it accepted an 11-digit number at all, come to think of it!

They have a “contact us” form:

– The form requires a company name. Without punctuation. My employer’s name is “Hewlett-Packard”. See the problem? :-)
– The form requires a phone number, but this time it must be ###-###-####. No exceptions. What if I have a problem when I’m on a business trip to Ireland?
– The message body cannot contain newline characters, making it hard to write intelligent messages to customer service…

I’m terrified to find out what’s going to happen once I try to trade my shares.

All of these issues are standard, common website usability issues, the ones that we all end up dealing with every day. UI experts have been ranting about stuff like this for at least a decade, but as far as I can tell, nobody is listening. It’s very depressing…

posted at 12:17 pm on Monday, December 15, 2008 in Programming, Rants | Comments Off on embarrassment

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