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The Secret to Building a Crappy User Interface

If you are like me, you have seen your share of really bad web applications. You have probably wondered "How could anyone design something this crappy?"

I am going to tell you.

The secret to designing a really awful user interface is to think like a geek and not like an end-user.

That's it.

I'll give you an example you will see on many e-commerce sites. Many of these sites don't let you enter a credit card number with dashes or spaces. Believe me when I tell you that there is no good reason why sites do this, and it makes it much harder for users to enter the correct number because they can't easily break it down into managable chunks. (Here's the No Dashes or Spaces Hall of Shame, in case you are interested in seeing examples of several companies that do this.)

This is what comes of thinking like a programmer. The programmer went "hey, I need to send this to the payment processing company without those spaces or dashes, so it will be better if they just don't enter them. Or, they didn't want to write a bunch of complicated validation logic for each type of credit card number. Unfortunately, they just ended up with software that was harder to use.

Of course, getting into the head of your users isn't easy. But if you want really great software, you have to be able to think like they do.

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