John Topley’s Weblog

Design 102: Don't Punish The User

I wrote previously about how white space is just as important in good user interface design as the content itself. Whilst booking some concert tickets recently using the TicketMaster website, I came across another example of bad design. In this case all I had done was opt for standing tickets to be sent to me via normal post (not registered delivery). This is what happened:

Click to enlarge.
A picture of the TicketMaster booking message box

—The problem here is that the user is being punished for making a perfectly legitimate choice. It's better to prevent the user from getting into trouble in the first place than berating them when they inevitably do so.

If the website was clever enough to recognise that I'd made an invalid selection, why did it not only let me but also tell me how to correct the mistake, instead of just preventing it from happening in the first place? And there was really NO NEED TO SHOUT AT ME.


There are 3 comments on this post. Comments are closed.

  • avatar John C
    27 January 2004 at 23:40

    THAT'S FANTASTIC! I've sent it to a few friends of mine who'll love it. It smacks of a developer saying to themself: "oh, the hell with it, I can't be bothered to do it properly, I'll just put up a message box and tell the user to do it for me". Professional that ain't.

  • avatar John Topley
    28 January 2004 at 10:18

    How's your web app coming on? Are you allowed to say what it is?

  • avatar John C
    28 January 2004 at 10:47

    Oh it's nothing exciting. I'm first of all writing a sort of on-line store and portal just to practise then I'm getting down to brass tacks. It's just going to roll a lot of functionality together like blogging, organisation, knowledgebase, as much to push .net as anything else.

The user is being punished for making a perfectly legitimate choice.


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