Web form complaints

| Comments (3) | Software
Spent some of today getting my 2011 charitable donations out of the way, so I've been experiencing a lot of different Web forms. Remember, these people want my money, so it would be nice if they didn't make the experience so irritating. On that basis, here are some things not to do:
  • Refuse to accept spaces or dashes in my credit card number, phone number, social security number, etc. Don't force me into your stupid format; parse whatever I send you. Here, let me help. The following JS code strips out spaces and dashes. input = input.replace(/[ \-]/g, "");. For an appropriately huge consulting fee I'll show you how to replace periods and pluses, too.
  • Force me to tell you what kind of credit card I have. This information is encoded in the leading digits of the credit card number. This table may help. I know that things change, but seriously, you could at least try to guess.
  • Force me to select "USA" out of the end of an incredibly long drop-down list of countries. It's true that you can generally determine someone's country by looking at their IP address, but I can certainly understand not wanting to bother with that, but if most of your customers are American, it's silly to force them to scroll all the way to the end out of a misguided notion of national equity. Make my life easy and put the USA as the first item in the list, people.
  • Make me enter my state and my zip code. In nearly all cases, the zip code encodes the state.

Also, not a Web form issue, but I also wish there were some way to tell these organizations not to ask me for donations during the year. I give once a year, at the end of the year. It's just a matter of convenience. Sending me a bunch of physical letters asking for money just wastes your fund raising dollars and my time.


Also too, accept valid email addresses. Specifically, a "+" sign in the mailbox portion of the email address is perfectly valid. Don't reject that.

These practices are also common-to-ubiquitous on commercial websites, as well--in my experience, at least--and they presumably want your/our money as much as charities do. My completely uninformed guess is that the popular/cheap e-commerce-in-a-box packages have been doing this for years, and nobody (including the vendors themselves, at this point) wants to root around messing with their ancient code...

Sending me a bunch of physical letters asking for money just wastes your fund raising dollars and my time.
Wasting your time costs them nothing, and sending bulk-rate mail nearly nothing. Doubtless donors act in response to prodding, even some of those who, like you, donate on their own schedule and claim prodding will avail the charity nothing additional.

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