some interface complaints
Mood: annoyed
Posted on 2008-01-14 10:39:00
Tags: rant house
Words: 134

So I'm getting quotes on homeowner's insurance. Called up USAA and it was pretty easy (and cheap!) but I wanted to compare with someone. State Farm doesn't do online quotes for our area, so GEICO it is.

- It asks the distance to the nearest fire department. How am I supposed to know this in general? Can't they figure it out since I gave them the address?

- Who thinks that selecting years (or dates for that matter) from a drop down box is easier than typing in four digits?

- Now they're asking if I've purchased the home within the last 12 months...but if I say yes and put in our scheduled closing date, it complains since it's in the future. I guess I'll say no, but I think the most accurate answer is yes. Gah.


Comment from bobacita:

Yeah, good interface design is supposed to make things easier on users. Making them do extra legwork doesn't make things easier for them! :P For the scheduled closing date, how about putting today's date and yes? I've had a similar quandary when asked in my grad school apps about my last day at my current job.

Comment from gregstoll:

Ah, that's a good idea.

Seriously, it's like they never considered/tested the fact that people would be using this to get quotes before they bought a house. Oh well. (they ended up being more expensive than USAA anyway...)

Comment from omega697:

The thing is, usually browsers take care of that for you, because you can type the date and the drop-down box will select it for you. The big advantage as a web app designer is it ensures that your input will be valid.

Comment from gregstoll:

That's true, I guess I forgot about that.

Re validation: but you have to validate it on the backend anyway, because browsers can POST whatever they want...

Comment from omega697:

But the validation can be simple, along the lines of "don't set the year field of this entry to be something that isn't a year." But you don't have to write code to explain to the user why it is wrong, how to fix it, etc. If the user is making their browser POST garbage to your form, you don't have to deal with them. But if your form supports it, you do.

Comment from abstractseaweed:

In one program I use at work there is a report that is intended to report all items before a user-entered end date, but it also includes an unnecessary drop-down for a start date. Since the drop-down has to have years to choose from it arbitrarily limits the earliest date to 1950. Thus, reporting anything earlier than 1950 requires bypassing the interface entirely and writing a custom query directly from the back end.

So yes, I completely agree that drop-downs for years are annoying.

Comment from anonymous:

i, on the contrary, love drop down date menus. It allows me to leisurely scroll through all the numbers, ensuring I don't forget any or jogging my memory if i can't remember the date I intend to enter.

i also love weddings... happy people, the opportunity to use corkscrews repetitively; for some its a challenge but for most of us its a gift.

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