Experiences on the Front Lines of User Interfaces and Web Development

Bad UI: dentist paperwork

I've decided that I may do a series (or a continuing theme amongst other posts..) on user interfaces out there in the world. I have always been fastinated with user interfaces and user interaction design. In fact I want to take some classes and gain more academic and technical knowledge on the subject.

Eposide 1:

I was at the dentist office today, and was filling out the multi-page form that doctors and dentists always have you fill out, especially if you are a first-time visitor. One the first page was info about myself, with the basic stuff. I got to a line labeled "Address". So I dutifully wrote in my street address and apartment number. Then instinctly dropped down to the next line to start writing "Santa Barbara". But I knew better.. some forms are tricky and dumb and ask for city or zip code first. So I glanced at the label, and to my surprise saw "Email address". For a split second I thought perhaps the "Address" line was actually supposed to contain my entire address, crammed on one line. But no, below email address was "City", then "State" and "Zip" after that.
I could not believe someone would put an email address field in between the address fields. Obviously a typo, but one that had made its way onto official dentist registration forms and probably have been in use for years like that.

I almost mentioned something to the receptionist, but thought better of it. Instead she can just read about it on my blog here.

Lessons to learn:
- proof-read materials before printing/publishing
- use the item that is in question (in this case, if one of the employees or the person that created this actually went through the process of filling the whole thing out, they would have spotted this easily)
- don't expect clients (users) to read all the labels as they fill out a form. By now people make assumptions about forms and fill them out on auto-pilot.
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