Stop Wasting Users’ Time

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Our users are precious about their time and we must stop wasting it. On each project ask two questions: “Am I saving myself time at the expense of the user?” and “How can I save the user time here?” What is the single most precious commodity in Western society? Money? Status? I would argue it is time.

We are protective of our time, and with good reason. There are so many demands on it. We have so much to do. So much pressure. People hate to have their time wasted, especially online. We spend so much of our time online these days, and every interaction demands a slice of our time. One minor inconvenience on a website might not be much, but, accumulated, it is death by a thousand cuts.

Steve Jobs claimed that improving the boot time on the Macintosh would save lives. A 10-second improvement added up to many lifetimes over the millions of users booting their computers multiple times a day.

Mac Boot Screen1
Steve Jobs was obsessed with saving the user time, and we should be, too. (Large preview2)

Millions of people might not use your website, but millions do use the Web as a whole. Together, we are stealing people’s lives through badly designed interactions. When I work on a website, one question is front and center in my mind:

“Am I saving myself time at the expense of the user?”

That is the heart of the problem. In our desire to meet deadlines and stay on budget, we often save ourselves time by taking shortcuts via our users’ time. Let’s explore some examples of what I mean.

Taking Time To Improve Performance

The most obvious example of wasting users’ time is website performance3. This is what Jobs was getting at with boot times. If our websites are slow, then we’ll waste our users’ valuable time and start to irritate them. One more cut, so to speak.

The problem is that improving performance is hard. We became lazy as broadband became widespread. We cut corners in image optimization, HTTP requests and JavaScript libraries. Now, users pay the price when they try to access our websites on slow mobile devices over cellular networks.

Google Page Speed Test4
Optimizing your website for performance not only saves your users time, but improves your search engine rankings. (Large preview5)

Making our websites faster takes time and effort, but why should users suffer for our problems? On the subject of making our problems the users’ problem, let’s take a moment to talk about CAPTCHA.

CAPTCHA: The Ultimate Time-Waster

CAPTCHA is the ultimate example of unloading our problems onto users. How many millions of hours have users wasted filling in CAPTCHA forms? Hours wasted because we haven’t addressed the problem of bots.

CAPTCHA example
CAPTCHA forces the user to deal with something that is really our problem.

Just to be clear, I am not just talking about traditional CAPTCHA either. I am talking about any system that forces the user to prove they are human. Why should they have to prove anything? Once again, another inconvenience, another drain on their precious time.

We could solve this problem if we put the time into it. The honeytrap technique6 helps. There are also server-side solutions for filtering out automated requests. The problem is that throwing a CAPTCHA on a website is easier.

Not that CAPTCHA is the only way that we waste the user’s time when completing forms.

Don’t Make Users Correct “Their” Mistakes In Forms

Sometimes we even waste the user’s time when we are trying to help them. Take postal-code lookup. I have been on websites that try to save me time by asking me to enter my postal code so that it can auto-populate my address. A great idea to save me some time — great if it works, that is.

The problem is that some lookup scripts require the postal code to have no spaces. Instead of the developer configuring the script to remove any spaces, they just return an error, and the user has to correct “their” mistake. Why should the user have to enter the data in a particular way? Why waste their time by requiring them to re-enter their postal code? This doesn’t just apply to postal codes either. Telephone numbers and email addresses come with similar problems.

We also need to better help mobile users interact with forms. Forms are particularly painful on touchscreens, so we need to explore alternative form controls, such as sliders7 and the credit-card input system in Square8’s mobile app.

Then, there are passwords.

Why Are Passwords So Complicated?

Why do we waste so much of the users’ time with creating passwords? Every website I visit these days seems to have ever more complex requirements for my password. Security is important, but can’t we come up with a better solution than an arcane mix of uppercase, numbers and symbols?

Why couldn’t we ask users to type in a long phrase instead of a single word? Why can’t my password be, “This is my password and I defy anyone to guess it”? The length would make it secure, and remembering and typing it would be much easier. If your system doesn’t like the spaces, strip them out. You could even provide an option for people to see what they’re typing.

Example of how longer passwords help security9
A long password phrase is as secure as a short password with numbers and symbols yet easier to remember. (Large preview10)

If you can’t do that, at least provide instructions when the user tries to log in. Remind them of whether your website wants uppercase or a certain number of characters. That would at least help them remember their password for your website.

The important thing is to recognize that people have to log in all the time. The task demands extra attention so that it is as painless as possible.

Pay Special Attention To Repetitive Tasks

We should ask ourselves not only whether we are unloading our problems onto users, but also how we can save our users time.

Take those common tasks that users do on our websites time and again. How can we shave a quarter of a second off of those tasks? What about search? If the user enters a search term on your website, will hitting the “Return” key submit the query? They shouldn’t have to click the “Search” button.

Drop-down menus are another good example. Navigating country-pickers can be painful11. Could we display countries differently, or make the most common countries faster to access? In fact, so much could be done to improve country-pickers12 if we just take the time.

Country Picker
Something as simple as a country-picker can waste a surprising amount of time, especially if you are British13! (Large preview14)

For that matter, a more robust solution to “Remember me” functionality would be nice, so that users are, in fact, remembered!

I am aware that this post might sound like a rant against developers. It is not. It is a problem faced by all Web professionals. Designers need to pay close attention to the details15 of their designs. Web managers need to ensure that the budget exists to refine their user interfaces16. And content creators need to optimize their content for fast consumption.

Help Users Process Our Content Faster

We waste so much of our users’ time with verbose, poorly written and dense copy, making it hard for them to find the piece of information they need. The real shame is that we could do so much to help. For a start, we could give the user a sense of approximately how long a page will take to read. I offer this functionality on my personal blog17, and it is the feature most commented on. Users love knowing how much of their time a post will take up.

We can also make our content a lot more scannable, with better use of headings, pullout quotes and lists. Finally, we can take a leaf out of Jakob Nielsen’s website18. At the beginning of each post, he provides a quick summary of the page.

The Tip Of The Iceberg

We could do so much more in all aspects of Web design to save users’ time. From information architecture to website analytics, we waste too much of it. Sometimes we even know we are doing it! We need to be forever vigilant and always ask ourselves:

“How can I save the user time in this situation?”

What are your thoughts on this topic? Please share your experiences and opinions with us, and join in the discussion in the comments section below.

(al, il)

Footnotes

  1. 1 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Mac-Booting-large-opt.jpg
  2. 2 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Mac-Booting-large-opt.jpg
  3. 3 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/01/06/page-performance-what-to-know-and-what-you-can-do/
  4. 4 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/PageSpeed-Insights-large-opt.jpg
  5. 5 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/PageSpeed-Insights-large-opt.jpg
  6. 6 https://forrst.com/posts/Preventing_form_spam_with_honeytrap-iLb
  7. 7 http://refreshless.com/nouislider/
  8. 8 http://www.lukew.com/ff/entry.asp?1667
  9. 9 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/password-large-opt.png
  10. 10 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/password-large-opt.png
  11. 11 http://boagworld.com/usability/the-country-picker-how-small-things-makes-big-differences/
  12. 12 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2011/11/10/redesigning-the-country-selector/
  13. 13 http://boagworld.com/usability/the-country-picker-how-small-things-makes-big-differences/
  14. 14 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/country-picker-large-opt.png
  15. 15 http://littlebigdetails.com
  16. 16 http://boagworld.com/design/how-much-are-you-willing-to-invest-in-design/
  17. 17 http://boagworld.com
  18. 18 http://www.nngroup.com/articles/

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Paul Boag has been working with the web since 1994. He is now co-founder of the web design agency Headscape, where he works closely with clients to establish their web strategy. Paul is a prolific writer having written the Website Owners Manual, Building Websites for Return on Investment, Client Centric Web Design, Digital Adaptation and numerous articles for publications such as .net magazine, Smashing Magazine and the Web Designers Depot. Paul also speaks extensively on various aspects of web design both at conferences across the world and on his award winning Web design podcast boagworld.

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  1. 1

    Yes, please, don’t make us waste our precious time.
    Regarding the country selection issue, the worst I’ve seen is when the countries are sorted using their name in English, but are shown in _the_ language of the country.

    7
  2. 2

    I think every website that I’ve been to on my phone wastes my time. They remove navigation elements in favor of a less-cluttered, less-complex, page. They replace important words with tiny icons that don’t mean anything (I’m looking at you hamburger icon!).
    Take smashingmagazine.com as an example:
    When I go to this site on my phone I see a header bar a search button and a hamburger icon and then I see a list of posts. But what I, as a reader, am really concerned about seeing is a list of categories and then the posts. When I see a list of posts I don’t care about the words they are “tagged” with, not do I care how many comments your post has. You are wasting my time having to look at this information. You are wasting my time having to click that hamburger icon, which incidentally takes my ALL the way down to the bottom of the screen, rather than presenting navigation in an easy-to-use manner that doesn’t interfere with my current place on the page. Why not just a dropdown menu or slide out?
    So far, that majority of mobile sites I’ve been to operate in similar fashion (and I’m not just talking about navigation) in that they do not save me time. I would rather be presented with the full desktop website on my phone (which by the way there is no way I’ve found to view smashingmagazine desktop website on my phone, because it is using media queries that automatically detect my phone and won’t let me switch to another layout). Mobile devices have full fledged web browsers, yet for some reason humans think it is better to present a standard view of a website that people have become accustomed to and familiar using in a completely different and dumbed-down way. That is an incredible time waster. It FORCES your viewers to re-learn something that they have already become familiar with only for the sake of trying to be trendy. And believe me, responsive design is a trend as much as Flash was. Something else will replace it in the future and I can’t wait until that happens.

    29
    • 3

      I am not surprised people are downrating me for my comment. However, people are generally unaware of how senior citizens use the internet. At the company I work for we’ve done studies with seniors using computers, tablets and phones. The majority of them are confused about why the site looks completely different. They also don’t know what little icons mean.
      The vast majority of designers (and especially developers) don’t take that market segment into account when building a website. It is far easier for a senior to pinch and zoom on the screen to view a website larger than it is for them to re-learn how to use the entire site just because they are on a smaller size screen. And in fact a lot of them still have to zoom in anyway to read the text even on a mobile responsive site.

      17
      • 4

        Responsive design isn’t a trend, it’s a tool. Some of the current methods of utilizing that tool are trends (hamburger icons, common layouts, certain animations), but the ideas and utility behind responsive design are bigger than those trends.

        Same with Flash. Gone are the days of implementing an entire site in Flash with gaudy animations and blaring sound (trend), but Flash may be the answer for a desktop site needing very specific Flash-only features (tool) or used as a fallback for browsers without appropriate features (tool).

        Responsive design isn’t simply about media queries or hamburger icons; it’s about user expectations on different devices and capabilities of those devices.

        When I pull up an article from a site like Smashing Magazine on my phone, I just want to read the article. A responsive view of the website tailored to make it easier to read that article on a small screen and hiding content that isn’t the primary purpose of my visit (navigation, search box, sidebar ads, basically anything that’s NOT the article) provide a better experience for me. Having that extra content available via a toggle or link keeps the page focused on what most users are there to view.

        Most of your complaints about Smashing’s homepage would not really be made better by showing you the full site on your phone. You may have the benefit of a familiar desktop interface, but what about users who never visit the site from a desktop device? There’s more information and “visual clutter” on the desktop site that requires zooming and scrolling around to get to content they want to see, which arguably takes more user time and interaction than learning the mobile interface. Like you said, “You are wasting my time having to look at this information.”

        Going back to the point of the article, a full desktop site on a small screen wastes my time by making it difficult to read the article (my primary purpose of visiting the page) versus the few seconds it would take to acclimate to the new interface/layout (secondary purpose, assuming that I even need those features or information on my phone).

        Banking, online shopping or other sites with more user interaction that necessitates a more complex interface might benefit from having separate mobile / desktop sites (which is still ‘responsive design’ in my opinion), or at least the ability to toggle from a squishy responsive site to a fixed desktop site with a simple change of the `meta viewport` tag.

        Bottom Line: Use responsive design as a tool to save user’s time by making the site easier to use on any device. If time is being wasted by having to relearn a complex interface, then offer users the option of returning to a familiar interface.

        24
      • 5

        For what it’s worth, the senior citizens OR users who are unfamiliar with the web in general, which is a decently large portion of the user markets I deal with every day, do not uniformly agree with your perspective – in my experience, in fact, it’s the opposite. A responsive website, if done well, is exactly what they want. The pinching and scrolling is frustrating and difficult to them, and it alleviates that.

        The place where I agree with you is in icons – I think that although prettier and very easy to follow for a large portion of the audience, the hamburger and other menu icons could pretty easily just be a dropdown instead.

        Although, one does have to take into account their audience, though – for example, looking at your example of Smashing Magazine – do you really think that senior citizens who are incapable of browsing the internet without guidance is a primary or even secondary target market for the site?

        13
      • 6

        I’d argue pinching and zooming is a greater learning curve than a different look from desktop to mobile.

        3
        • 7

          It’s poor that the community is shunning a ply from a user and using their own assumptions about what works well over user evidence. We should all bear in mind that what appears better for some is not necessarily optimal for all user groups.

          That just shows your a UI geek not a UX pro.

          0
    • 8

      I couldn’t agree with more on the tags. Meta data about posts is just about the most worthless thing to me on a blog, especially in previews, summaries, or thumb. If I’m just looking at different articles to read, I don’t care how many comments it has, what it’s tagged as, or when it was posted.

      0
  3. 9

    A lot of it is convention that was designed in the early parts of the Internet by IT engineers. They tend to think methodically and logically like computers and don’t understand that some people don’t think that way.

    Things like complex password rules and captcha are so ingrained in the experience of the web that we make websites that follow the status quo. The big websites are the benchmarks and if Facebook/Twitter/Google started doing things differently, then it makes users start asking “Why don’t i need to do this on Google but I need to do it on your company’s website? You’re wasting my time”

    2
    • 10

      At my place of work, we receive hundreds of sign-ups per day, and many thousands of attempts to create automated accounts. We have successfully used the honeypot method to eliminate the automated sign-up attempts and we much prefer this method to using a CAPTCHA, which was the original plan.

      We also do our very best to ensure that the form remains accessible to screen reader users.

      1
  4. 11

    Really insightful article.

    I always try to collect as much information and correct as much as I can on the back-end, such as (one solution to the country thing) finding out the users location with server side code, if the server supports it. HTML5 Geolocation is another alternative, but of course the user has to accept it.

    I also try to make the form look smaller and cleaner by removing labels, and instead using the Placeholder attribute with (sometimes) suggestive icons, and have forms loaded into a modal via ajax which are interchangeable (for example if the user needs to switch from login to forgot login details – it should be quick and easy, without navigating to a new webpage).

    I would move onto form validation but this is an area that’s been widely covered already :P

    1
  5. 12

    Some excellent points. Country selectors in particular infuriate me, particularly when they put US up top, but keep the UK with the U’s – so if you tap the “U” key to jump down the list, it doesn’t help.

    Of course there are far worse culprits for wasting people’s time; slow loading social buttons, popovers begging you to like an article you hadn’t even started to read and the worst one of all – splitting an article into multiple pages.

    Lastly, I’m really not a fan of the estimated reading time approach – in fact I find it slightly patronising. Reading speeds vary enormously, not just between people but according to the nature of the content. I can quite happily speed-read / skim something trivial, fun or frivolous, but if an article demands my attention I might read it some five times slower. Much better to allow people to scroll down to the end of the article to get a sense of its length – that’s if the slow-loading social buttons haven’t caused the whole page to freeze, or you’re busy dismissing a popover.

    8
    • 13

      As somebody from the UK this one frustrates me as well (regarding country).

      Have you ever created a fanpage on Facebook? Facebook gives you the option to log in as your alter-ego fanpage, and on other websites the Facebook Social Plugins do not render and instead shows you a link telling you to “Switch Accounts” – the issue is that it renders a huge white block, where to rid of it all you can do is either unwillingly switch accounts or delete the node in developer tools. The annoying thing is that I don’t even use social buttons.

      0
    • 14

      Brendon Boshell

      April 28, 2014 7:18 am

      Even worse is when United Kingdom is not under the U’s. You have to hunt around in 4 different letters for “England”, “Great Britain”, “The United Kingdom” or “Britain”. Of course, the easiest solution is to detect my country for me, based on my IP address/geolocation information.

      2
  6. 15

    Great post, Paul. Saving seconds and minutes from any users’ experience is vital in maintaining their interest and (hopefully) delivering a conversion for the product/service/site. It’s something that we – as designers – might forget to delve into as deeply as we should when putting those nuanced interactive details together.

    There are some processes where interaction-drag – if we can call it that – is inevitable, and almost expected. Take code-validated sign-ups for example.

    You want the user to sign up in a secure and meaningful way to make sure you’re getting quality sign-ups and potential clients. The user has to submit (at least) their email address and maybe a mobile phone number to receive a code which they then input to your site to validate their sign-up and access your service. While the user remains ‘on site’ during the process there are external factors that may impact on your user’s experience and reflect badly on you (the business) and therefore cost you the sign-up (eg. The time it takes to receive an SMS code; how quickly their email server passes your automated message, and that’s if they don’t have to fish it out of the spam-box).

    While we can consider and control 99% of the user’s time to the Nth degree, sometimes we might lose some minutes through no fault of our own.

    2
  7. 16

    This SO resonates with me.

    FLICKR – I’ve been struggling to get past the CAPTCHA on a paid account with Flickr for months now and Flickr won’t help. It’s incredible. Bye Bye Flickr.

    SPAM COMMENTS But as a blogger, I leave the captcha in place because it stops literally hundreds of spam comments a day, making it time-consuming to sort out the handful of live comments from real commenters. (Yes Google could fix this … )

    ARCHIVE PAGES My personal peeve is archive pages rendered useless because you’d have to wade through pages and pages and pages of complete or even partial posts to get what you might be after. So for my own sites, I spend an inordinate amount of time developing user-friendly lists (the first page is the “Recipe Box” http://www.kitchenparade.com/2006/12/recipe-box.php) although this perhaps is most important for sites with evergreen content like food blogs.

    As always, provocative thinking is much appreciated!

    1
  8. 17

    1. yep, the first comment is right … the worse waste of time is reading headlines in RSS and trying to figure if it’s important – this article is example of wasted time :D

    2. steve jobs was obsessed but it was different time and system so try to be accurate at least :D

    find job where you really work and stop writing this kind of ****

    -23
  9. 18

    I’m sorry but some of your points are only valid in your own UX bubble.

    Just like your job is to make the users happy and craft the best experience for them, the security guys need to do their job too and they would want everyone’s password to be as long and difficult as possible, so does the managers and they might want the developers to implement CAPTCHA in 2 hours instead of a complex solution which will take them several days.

    While the best (or at least good enough) solution from UX point-of-view will be to only ask the user to enter his ID or Username in order to sign-in to his bank account, I’m sure you will be very piss if someone will find out your ID/username and transfer all your money. I’m not sure you will say “Oh that’s fine, at least it’s easy to log-in”.

    While UX is important, maybe even very important – there are other important things too. And sometimes you will need to do some trade-offs.

    13
    • 19

      Totally agree on the security aspects of the article.

      Captcha and other alternatives can be annoying, but they make transactions secure. For me personally, I want to take extra steps to make sure my details are secure. If that means completing a Captcha form – great. If that means muddling around with the medieval keypad that you get from HSBC – brilliant.

      Putting minor UX gripes above internet security is ridiculous.

      0
  10. 20

    Honey Trap trick as a captcha replacement won’t work for users with disability that use screen readers.

    2
    • 21

      With a proper label for the field that tells them not to fill it out, why wouldn’t this work for screenreaders?

      4
  11. 23

    Totally agree with the one about password requirements. For the sites that are “so” concerned about security, why not just let the user generate a new password on the site to login? Reason is when I have to choose so long and difficult to remember passwords, I tend to forget them by the time I return to the site,so I have to click on the “Forget password” every time for the system to give me a new one! So why bother to ask users to create a password?

    3
  12. 24

    The Honey Pot trick works great, for a small website. On a huge, popular site that is a more attractive target, all it would take is for the spammer to program their bot to ignore the “machine” field when it crawls your site.

    1
  13. 25

    Two of my pet hates:
    1. Email address -> repeat Email address (I always copy – paste)
    2. Password -> repeat Password

    Furthermore “so-called clever web sites”, which analyse my IP and language settings and then ONLY display content tailored to my settings. I’ve come across quite a few shopping carts, which change to my system language, but where the owner hasn’t entered item descriptions or menu items (or category headers) in my set language – so all I get is an EMPTY shopping site, oftentimes even lacking a switch to change language! Or, since I travel full time, I want to research destinations, but only get local results (close to the IP I´m logged in through).

    Google´s redirect to the local search engine is another example: when I´m in Chile I get redirected to google.cl, with mostly Spanish results (which I´m not fluent in), and even English results get pushed down in the result order.

    4
    • 26

      Hi Juergen,
      while I understand your anger, I know companies who think that fixing some edge cases (like your language or near-by search problem) is a waste of THEIR time. ;-)

      0
  14. 27

    My constant frustrations:

    1. Form fields that do not state their limitations in advance. I create a random 50 character password and get an ‘invalid’ error. Only then does the kindly form tell me that my new password can only be 6-16 characters and can’t contain symbols. How hard would it be to list these limitations next to/under the form field or in a tool tip?

    2. Registration forms that ask for both a user name and an email address, but the log in form does not explicitly state which to use to log in.

    6
  15. 28

    “A long password phrase is as secure as a short password with numbers and symbols yet easier to remember”

    No, it’s not. Using a phrase means you are actually reducing the number of possible combinations, because a phrase will use only known words and follow a known grammer. They are predicatble.
    The sentence “i love pizza” is said to take 546 years to hack, but I’d argue it’s more like two minutes. Most people will feel the need to start their personal passphrase with “I”, they just do. Then they will describe something about themselves, and it will be generic and simple. “I like”, “I love”, “I think”, follow that by any subject you can love, like, hate, enjoy, and that takes care of most of your “secure phrases”.
    You still have to incorporate capital letters etc to make the words unpredictable and then you’re back where you started: “I L0ve P1zzA!?”

    Honeypots don’t work, because they contain information that tells the browser to make the field inaccessible to users. How long do you think it will take hackers to recognise that and avoid the trap?

    About entering data in a particular format, that’s because most users are stupid and simply will not use the format you expect. Here in Holland you can live at housenumber “12BIIIL”, housenumber 12, second floor, third appartment on the left side of the corridor. An yes, people also write that as 12 2 3 L. Good luck recognising a typo here: “1 22 3 L” or “1 2 23 L”

    “Could we display countries differently, or make the most common countries faster to access? ”

    No, because users expect the list to be alphabetical, they will simply skip whatever you put at the top and scroll to where they expect to find their country. Also, if it’s a company website you really must think about the politics; putting one country at the top will enevitably make some client in another country feel left out. Yes, people are that pathetic.

    In short: you have some good ideas, you just need to incorporate reality into them.

    11
  16. 29

    You know what: I consider podcasts a waste of my time. I don’t know what I’m going to get. It takes a long time to get through. I have *no idea* whether it will be interesting to me.

    That’s why I prefer readable, skimmable text, so that when the content is wandering, I can skip to the next paragraph.

    1
  17. 30

    Here’s my pet peeve. Websites which load a bunch of _huge_ images in the header area, _then_ load the actual text content. We’re here to read the text, not look at the pretty pictures. Suggestion: load and scroll to the text first, leaving space for the images; _then_ load the images so we can start reading while you continue decorating.

    3
  18. 31

    As much as I like reading the Huffington Post website, the sheer amount of junk that appears when you navigate from page to page makes the experience horrible. Each page refresh brings up content from various sites, too many icons appear, too many useless bits of information. Meaning even on a good connection, moving between pages is slow.
    The solution is frames, but frame usage was phased out because the user experience wasn’t as good. Even though the security issues have been addressed, frame stop repeating a whole lot of information and allow only the relevant bits to be displayed. Nice, efficient and fast. But no one uses frames anymore because of either a trend, fashion statement or a mistaken belief that a site looks better without them. A well designed site would make it near impossible to determine that frames were used.
    I think all website developer should be forced to work over a traditional phone/modem line. So they can quickly see and understand where the slow points are on the page.

    1
  19. 32

    The password thing is particularly annoying. The amount of times my “standard password” has failed on a site because it had a special requirement that I had since forgotten.

    Of course I soon realise this after I have intiated the “reset password” process. To add to the pain, it tells me I can not use the same password! So since I now remember the requirements and can re-enter the password (or even cancel it), it says I can do neither of these things!!

    JUST TELL ME TO BEGIN WITH THE REQUIREMENTS!

    3
  20. 33

    Andrew M. Andrews III

    April 28, 2014 7:57 pm

    I think that you forgot to mention one of the biggest offenders when it comes not only to wasting time, but also, interrupting the user’s workflow for the sake of forcing “valid” input: I’m talking about calendar widgets!

    Most calendar widgets force the user to repeatedly click back- or forward-arrows to select a month in the distant past or future. Worse yet, they force us to scroll through multiple levels of year ranges or incredibly-long drop-down selections in order to change the year.

    Time pickers are even worse: they’re either cutesy-but-impossible-to-manipulate clock faces, difficult-to-pinpoint sliders or limited to enter quarter-hour or five-minute increments.

    Many years ago, I faced this problem with a timekeeping web app that I was designing, and I committed to finding a better solution. As a result, I invented a date/time picker that makes speed-of-input a top priority, while still ensuring valid input. And for over five years I’ve made it freely-available to developers who care enough to look past what’s cool or cutesy in favor of making things easier on their users. Check it out at http://www.ama3.com/anytime/

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  21. 34

    First off, scrolling all the way to the bottom to comment was a total waste of time.

    Now, regarding CAPTCHA, yes – it’s annoying, but obviously necessary for some, as big companies continue to use it, including Google. The honeypot technique works for a low traffic website, where the bot basically just fills in any form it finds. However, for a high traffic website, then the bots used will be targeted to overcome that technique. It’s all a matter of ROI.

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    • 35

      Obviously, Captchas are a necessary evil in many cases. However, even if you have to use them, there is no need to make them so difficult. Sure, making simpler captchas might make your site more susceptible to bots, but how much more susceptible? So susceptible that you can’t run your business or so susceptible that you have to create a reasonable solution that puts the needs of the user first? I suspect in all but a few cases, it’s the latter.

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  22. 36

    Love this post! My weird paradigm is making some of these reccos (especially captcha) work within within the confines of hefty financial and regulatory compliance. I wholeheartedly agree, but some aren’t feasible based on industry.

    1
  23. 37

    One of the biggest challenges working on software is realizing you’ll usually never experience the software like your users.

    Great article and a fantastic reminder that it’s easy to cut corners at the expense of the user, guilty as charged ;)

    Unrealistic deadlines, external (and internal) pressures, limited budgets and resources (or lack there of) can all weigh heavy on a product/service. It’s always good to take a step back and restate the problem you’re trying to solve. Is it a real problem for the user or the business? Can you solve the problem by removing features instead of adding more? Are you prepared to measure the results post-launch to verify if that problem was solved?

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  24. 38

    “For a list of all the ways technology has failed to improve the quality of life, please press three.”
    Alice Kahn

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  25. 39

    Why do I need to fill out my age in forms right after I entered my date of birth? Couldn’t the developer figure out the algorithm to calculate the age from a given date of birth???

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  26. 40

    These are some very interesting points you have shared above. There are so many little things that can matter a lot in expense of time. Like you’ve mentioned the website load time matters a lot and also using captcha code wastes a lot of time. We should try our best to waste as minimum time of users on these things.

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  27. 41

    I love how people in the comments contradict your statements with their opinions, as though they know the One True truth.

    It’s a fact that various little things waste peoples time, but how we solve that will continually change, the article as I read it is aimed at battling the complacency that some developers apparently take to be law.

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  28. 42

    Overall I think these are great points. Generally this kind of thing boils down to taking the easy route when it comes to UX. It’s much easier to prioritize issues of security, compliance or internal structures over a quality engaging experience. However, for a company to become truly customer focused they have to give all those things equal priority. Simply put, if a piece of content or functionality doesn’t meet compliance or security standards, it can’t go on the web. It also can’t go on the web if it doesn’t create an engaging experience. When companies put their content up to that lens it often amounts a paradigm shift in how they view their digital channels but it is vital to achieving full value in your digital investment.

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  29. 43

    Matt Litherland

    May 1, 2014 9:07 am

    Love this article, great resource too. Thanks for putting so many external links to great content.

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  30. 44

    Such a good article.. Loved it.. We take in so much pain to create a website and the minor things are ignored which actually deserves much thoughts and efforts put into it..
    Ive been using the captcha method for long and i will surely try out the alternative honeytrap technique and see the difference.

    Loved your article as a whole. Keep going.. Now gonna follow you via twitter.. Awesome job,

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  31. 45

    It pisses me off even more when some websites list United States at the top of the country list and the REST OF THE WORLD have to wade through the entire list to find their country. Fortunately most websites have abandoned this crappy practice. A better way would be to detect your country from your IP address and list that as first option (or default option).

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  32. 46

    Very nice article It is necessary to emphasize this points.

    I accept the whole concept of this topic. but disagree Captcha and SecurePassword section. I think this is misunderstood view about this issue.

    Captcha !!?
    You sayed Captcha or similar solutions is not good!
    Honeytrap dosn’t work in big projects where spammers create dedicated tools to win over you.
    so when you see Bot’s traffic is more than human traffic (70% vs 30%) you have to stop them. I dosn’t mean Captcha is the only solution but whatever working solution have a part in user side.

    Users time will be wasted if they receive message from spammers. so until we dosn’t have any good soltion we have to stop BOT’s in user side because users will have more wasted time when you have a lot spammers in your website etc.

    Secure password !!?
    SecurePassword dosn’t waste users time because by default most of them dosn’t care about their password security (check stats about 123456 password around the world!!!) we have to force them to have a good password. because we are holding their important data. but I agree this shoudln’t be painful or indulgence.
    User’s time will be more wasted when they lost their information or bank account.

    Also there is good solutions to make it easy for users. for example We should provide OAuth to help users.

    I totaly agree about other parts of your touching words. and thank you at all.

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  33. 47

    pierre lebaily

    May 13, 2014 5:45 pm

    Thanks and great idea for long password like phrase and how long time content takes to be reading…

    Private joke : improve acces to the form for comment it takes time because of many slides up…

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