Pete Freitag Pete Freitag

Keep in mind that users don't read

Published on August 15, 2005
By Pete Freitag

I was just updating my cell phone plan on T-Mobile's web site. They asked me to enter the last four digits of my social security number, or my birth date to confirm my identity.

I was just making a quick change, so I didn't read the instructions on the form written in font size xx-small. So I entered both the last 4 digits of my ssn, and my birthday. This caused the form to send an error back saying enter the last four digits of your social security number, or your birthday. Again I missed the OR, and after one more erroneous attempt I finally read it carefully, I entered just one, and it worked.

But my question of the day is, why would you throw an error message for providing too much information?

Also some advice, if you have a form with an option like that, it may be better off to add some more separation. I think perhaps having one option on the left, a big, bold OR in the middle, and one on the right would work better.

forms usability validation

Keep in mind that users don't read was first published on August 15, 2005.

If you like reading about forms, usability, or validation then you might also like:

Discuss / Follow me on Twitter ↯


To me, they either A) shouldnt give you the option. You should know both your social and your date of birth so why give you a choice? or B) make you enter in both. Again, you should know both and this will provide more security, or at least make you feel more secure ;). If I have your ssn, chances are Im going to have your date of birth too ;)
by Ryan Guill on 08/15/2005 at 1:03:47 PM UTC
I had a similar problem when signing up to Windows Live Alerts. It instructed you to enter your phone number, and I had to try at least 7 different formats before it finally accepted it. There was no information provided as to how to correctly enter it.
by Patrick Naish on 10/13/2006 at 6:43:53 AM UTC