Points of Failure

So many sites let themselves down over simple matters where they force the user to jump through hoops.

I’ve just booked a train journey, something that is difficult in and of itself as rather than have one central booking system for National Rail each time you purchase you’re taken to the local train company and have to learn their checkout system, complete their unique registration process and finally, hopefully, checkout.

I know there are reasons for this, but it would be so much easier for consumers to use the one site and they sort it out. Instead like so much on the Internet the sites have a poor user experience and force their customers to bend to their will.

But today’s rant is dedicated most especially to credit card forms. Credit cards are long strings of numbers badly printed in a weird font on plastic that quickly loses its lustre as the silver rubs off and becomes increasingly difficult to read.

On the cards themselves the numerals are grouped in sets of four. But time after time I enter in the number, grouping the numerals in the easy to digest and check sets, I get presented with an error.

After double and triple checking it becocmes evident that the developer couldn’t do something as simple as remove the spaces before the Luhn modulus 10 test.

Years ago when I wrote the original OnlineSales e-commerce package I made sure the user could add their credit card in any format they wanted, checking the algorithm against the numerals after removing spaces.

I also reformatted the string to look pretty in groups of four if there was an error so it was easier for the customer to see the problem.

As a developer I thought it was my job to make the customer’s life easier. As a SEO and conversion optimiser it’s definitely my job to make the customer’s experience better.

It’s more than ten years later and still many sites have the credit card number as a point of failure – worse still they don’t even warn the potential customer what formatting this particular form requires.

Developers of the world unite! Allow spaces in credit card numbers: Make your customer’s lives easier and get more business.