Sometimes we even waste the user’s time when we are trying to help them. Take postal-code lookup. I have been on websites that try to save me time by asking me to enter my postal code so that it can auto-populate my address. A great idea to save me some time — great if it works, that is.
The problem is that some lookup scripts require the postal code to have no spaces. Instead of the developer configuring the script to remove any spaces, they just return an error, and the user has to correct “their” mistake. Why should the user have to enter the data in a particular way? Why waste their time by requiring them to re-enter their postal code? This doesn’t just apply to postal codes either. Telephone numbers and email addresses come with similar problems.
We also need to better help mobile users interact with forms. Forms are particularly painful on touchscreens, so we need to explore alternative form controls, such as sliders and the credit-card input system in Square’s mobile app.