UPS Puts the Mess in Message

UPS’s Forgot My Password form could use a bit of design work. While I was trying to use it to log in so I could track a shipment of application demolition charges, I kept getting an error message that didn’t make sense. Here it is:

The validation message didn't make sense
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Let’s take a quick look at the form, and what I did:

  1. In the User ID edit box, I typed a probable user name.
  2. I saw the second form, which seemed to indicate I could just have UPS send my user ID to my e-mail address. So I typed in my e-mail address, since I’m sure of that and might not be sure of my user ID.
  3. I clicked Submit-> without clearing out the initial user ID guess.

The application responded with this message: A User ID and Password were both submitted. Please submit either a User ID or a Password. (MYU_1130).

Now, pause and think about that a moment. I didn’t enter a password. So the message is incorrect and confused.

However, the form is ill-designed to begin with. If I can only enter information into one of the two subforms to proceed, one would expect a nice set of radio buttons to indicate that each option is exclusive; clicking a radio button would then enable the associated controls and disable the other controls. When the user clicked submit, the application would validate the contents of the enabled controls and ignore any contents in the disabled controls. This way, the user would never have to suss out what that erroneous error message means.

No, UPS instead “chose” (by not thinking about it or discarding the thought if they did) to go with the unusable and incomprehensible. By not spending their time to make it right, they made me spend my time trying to figure it out. And my time is cheaper to them than their development staff’s.

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