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September 6, 2012

Clear: Validation logic should match page instructions.

Screen Shot 2012-09-06 at 11.33.55 AM.png

Registering for Clear (www.clearme.com), their password field says:

(minimum 8 letters, must include 1 number, no special characters)

So I type a nice long passphrase. (What are "special characters"? Is a space "special"? Is a period "special"? Is the problem that the site is coded in a language that somehow doesn't have character-escaping libraries?) I get this delightfully cryptic message:

Password needs to be 12 character long or shorter.


Also, it took me a second to parse it: almost ungrammatical, seems written by a non-native English speaker. (Now, as someone who really only speaks one language, I am absolutely NOT mocking people who are non-native speakers of English. God knows I've worked with plenty of native speakers whose spelling and grammar leave much to be desired.) But language matters. It communicates. You need to copy edit everything in your interface for clarity. Whoever wrote that error message was probably an engineer jamming through the validation piece, and bless their heart for at least providing an error message that described the validation rule more or less properly. The management of Clear's website clearly has no processes in place for designing, reviewing, and copy editing error messages.

RULE: Your validation rules need to be displayed in the page's instructions.

RULE: Copy edit all of your text.