Archive for June, 2017

That Has Been My Experience With Most Online Help

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017 by The Director

Has this been helpful?

Cue the Meghan Trainor, again.

“Lie to me,” the computer said.

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017 by The Director

I wonder if I could do nothing but posts about CAPTCHAs and what they can teach us; after all, this is my second one recently (see also.)

But here’s another one.

You see, it says Select all squares with street signs, but there are no street signs in the image.

Which made me think of all the forms that ask us to put something into edit boxes other than what the labels describe.

Do your labels all give proper patterns for data entry? Ask for the right thing? Are your end users doing strange workarounds and using data elements to contain different things than expected?

Is your application or your customer support team telling the user to lie to it to make the application work right?

That’s a problem, you know.

Of course you know. But make sure everyone else knows, too.

Here, Hold My Beer Place

Monday, June 12th, 2017 by The Director

Putting placeholder text in edit boxes in addition to (or, heaven forfend, instead of) labels became all the rage sometime recently (and, by recently, I’m using the old man’s yardstick of sometime in the last decade).

Placeholder text

Which leads to a simple test often overlooked:

What happens if I type that placeholder text into the edit box?

Now, ungentle reader, what should happen is that the string you type replaces the sample text. If your developers/designers are kludging the equivalent of a placeholder attribute into the control, you might end up typing at the end of the placeholder string which is a bit inconvenient for your users, particularly those who type without clicking on the edit box first (aka your keyboard-loving users).

Now, what happens when you submit?

Well, if the placeholder string fits within the constraints of the data string you can enter in the edit box, your application should accept it.

However, I’ve found situations where the placeholder text, when typed into the edit box, trigger validation messages because the validation logic looked for the placeholder text. This is less a problem when the placeholder text is “First name” but more a problem when the placeholder is “John”.

I got the idea for this post when I typed the placeholder text for an online import edit box that accepts a URL. The sample URL apparently resolves to a real Web site, but one which returns an HTTP 599 error due to a bad certificate (which led to a defect report about an unhelpful error message for HTTP 599 errors).

But typing the placeholder text into edit boxes can prove to be a test that occasionally bears bad fruit. Like any test.

QA Music: Fail Early, Fail Fast

Monday, June 5th, 2017 by The Director

Paralandra, “All Fall Down”:

Well, it’s our job to make the software fail early and fail fast.


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