10 ways to make your forms a pleasure to use

Paul Boag

This week on the Boagworld show we tackle one of the most frustrating parts of the online experience — form filling.

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Paul Boag:
Hello and welcome to Boagworld.com, the podcast for people involved in digital.

Marcus Lillington: Oh, yeah you remembered.

Paul Boag:
I know. Well, we say this every week now, so it’s almost become a new tradition. I don’t say it the way I always used to say it, then you say, you know that you remember.

Marcus Lillington: Boring, isn’t it?

Leigh Howells:
I have been listening and I haven’t noticed a difference.

Paul Boag:
Well, I don’t say…

Leigh Howells:
Designing and developing bla bla bla.

Paul Boag:
No, I stopped that ages ago. Have you not been listening to the podcast?

Leigh Howells:
Really? Yes, but I haven’t noticed you’ve changed what you say.

Marcus Lillington: I don’t blame you.

Leigh Howells:
Actually, I think I might do.

Paul Boag:
So, Leigh is here. We’ve got Leigh here. Yeah. Hello.

Marcus Lillington: It’s quite hot in here today.

Paul Boag:
It is flipping hot in here.

Leigh Howells:
It’ very warm. I’ve got hot feet today so I’ve got my shoes off.

Paul Boag:
Leigh is going around – I was going to say James because obviously…

Marcus Lillington: Because it was annoying.

Paul Boag:
It was annoying, so… Yeah, so therefore it’s my son. We were saying before the show how I am a bad dad so I think that just reinforces it that I presume that everything bad in the world is my son’s fault. Yes, for some reason Leigh was sitting in the office with no shoes on this morning, which I found quite disturbing.

Leigh Howells:
Or socks. I think that was the most disturbing.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Leigh Howells:
Yeah, I got really hot feet on the tube. I suddenly realized I was over-heating.

Paul Boag:
Do you know, what really confused me – what do you mean the tube – you came by train?

Leigh Howells:
I always come by train.

Paul Boag:
Do you really?

Leigh Howells:
Hello, Paul, my name is Leigh, yeah.

Paul Boag:
I don’t care about my employees.

Leigh Howells:
I’ve always come by train. Well, since we’ve moved here actually.

Marcus Lillington: I am going on the train to York next week so there, ha.

Paul Boag:
There was an article on the Telegraph recently…

Marcus Lillington: You’ve been reading the Telegraph, Paul? How grown up of you.

Paul Boag:
Only because someone shared it on Twitter and then explained it to me in short words.

Marcus Lillington: Oh, okay.

Paul Boag:
That was somebody ranting about car drivers, too many car drivers in Britain. And this really gets on my nerves, right?

Marcus Lillington: Does it? Does it?

Paul Boag:
Because it’s always written by people who live in London, right? Yes, if I lived in London, I wouldn’t drive a car. I live in the bloody middle of nowhere. It takes me 40 minutes to get to a train station if I drive. If I took a bus, the bus goes twice a day to my nearest train station, so how the hell am I supposed to get anywhere?

Leigh Howells:
And he’s off.

Marcus Lillington: Me, me, me, me, me, me. Don’t live in the middle of Worzel Land then.

Paul Boag:
I like the middle of Worzel Land and anyway we can’t all live in friggin’ London.

Leigh Howells:
It’s true; it’s a very polarized view of the world, isn’t it? Yeah, I wouldn’t have a card.

Paul Boag:
It is.

Marcus Lillington: Yes, it is.

Leigh Howells:
Anyway, I’ve been worried – I was worried all night how your pillow has been working out. It’s all I care about.

Marcus Lillington: I forgot to ask. How is it?

Leigh Howells:
Actually you slept all weekend. That must be superb.

Paul Boag:
Magic. I have mixed feelings.

Marcus Lillington: It’s not that good, is it?

Paul Boag:
It’s not all I had hoped it would be.

Leigh Howells:
All you dreamed of.

Paul Boag:
It’s a very comfortable pillow but it has one fundamental flaw.

Leigh Howells:
Right. It’s got water in it?

Paul Boag:
Yes, essentially. That every time you turn over it sounds like a tsunami. So it is slightly flawed. But you have to try these things.

Leigh Howells:
Right. So is the fact that it has got water in it of any benefit whatsoever?

Paul Boag:
Yes, it kind of does – no.

Leigh Howells:
Don’t get one of those then.

Paul Boag:
It’s a total waste of time and it’s a total gimmick.

Marcus Lillington: There you go. We’ll, you’ve tested it. They had one sucker of a customer.

Leigh Howells:
Well now we know what it is.

Paul Boag:
It had 283 reviews of people saying it was amazing.

Marcus Lillington: Do not buy this.

Paul Boag:
Five out of five review.

Leigh Howells:
I’m glad it wasn’t any kind of product placement then. I was beginning to wonder, was this like an advertorial.

Paul Boag:
Oh, right. No, no, didn’t even get free products out of it. I want my money back in that case.

Leigh Howells:
In fact it has done quite the opposite for them.

Paul Boag:
I didn’t get any swag. There was another article I was reading recently about how there is this is kind of new generation of bloggers that basically are in it to get free swag.

Leigh Howells:
Sounds good.

Paul Boag:
Which I think, yes, perfectly valid, but I never get any.

Marcus Lillington: But it rarely is though, doesn’t it? Swag normally means T-shirts that last one wash.

Paul Boag:
No, no, they do things like, oh, I’m going to review the latest technology.

Leigh Howells:
Laptop reviewer.

Paul Boag:
Yes, so send to me all the latest technology.

Leigh Howells:
Camera reviewer.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah, I suppose.

Paul Boag:
The trouble is…

Marcus Lillington: How many cameras can you have though?

Leigh Howells:
Many.

Paul Boag:
Four. It’s a gorgeous camera I want. Did you see the camera I’m after?

Leigh Howells:
Hang on, you haven’t bought it yet? That’s unlike you.

Paul Boag:
No, my wife won’t let me.

Leigh Howells:
Good.

Marcus Lillington: Talking of – mentioning papers, in the Times last week there was, I think I was the Times anyway, there was a bloke talking about his Leica and his life with his Leica camera.

Leigh Howells:
Oh, a proper Leica? Not like a Panasonic mix?

Marcus Lillington: He bought it in the 1950s when he just left Cambridge and sort of – he was a journalist but he had been trying to take great pictures all his life and it just makes you want one and when I looked at the price, thought maybe not.

Paul Boag:
No, I want…

Leigh Howells:
How much?

Marcus Lillington: Oh, £4,500 and then you had to get a lens.

Leigh Howells:
Oh, that’s without a lens?

Marcus Lillington: Yeah, I think so. Something like that.

Paul Boag:
My wife definitely wouldn’t let me get that. Of course I’ve got a battle next week when they announce the iWatch. Why the hell do you want a watch? I don’t know why I want a watch.

Leigh Howells:
Well, you need one for testing.

Paul Boag:
Well, I need one because Apple tell me to buy one.

Leigh Howells:
Because it’s an Apple product.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Leigh Howells:
And it’s on your wrist.

Marcus Lillington: I quite fancy the iPhone 6 big one.

Leigh Howells:
Oh, do you now? Do you now? After laughing at my big phone?

Marcus Lillington: No, no, it wasn’t me.

Paul Boag:
It was me.

Marcus Lillington: He points at his glasses.

Leigh Howells:
True.

Marcus Lillington: Big screen good.

Paul Boag:
Makes a lot of sense.

Leigh Howells:
Yeah, for accessibility. Special needs.

Marcus Lillington: Special needs, yeah.

Leigh Howells:
It’s a good thing.

Marcus Lillington: Apparently they are not going to release the big one straight away.

Paul Boag:
There is talk.

Leigh Howells:
Nobody knows.

Paul Boag:
It is all just guesswork. Did you hear what…

Marcus Lillington: It’s not like you would get one anyway.

Paul Boag:
Did you hear what I did in order to ensure that I get one?

Leigh Howells:
Yes, yes. Skated on it.

Paul Boag:
It sounds so unbelievable that I don’t believe it myself and I did it.

Leigh Howells:
No, I was really surprised you’d send it off for repair. Thought really, you’re going to get it fixed.

Paul Boag:
Yes. Only because my…

Leigh Howells:
So you can sell it.

Paul Boag:
The only way I get a new is if my wife has the old one and she doesn’t want one covered in scratches.

Marcus Lillington: Caroline said to me the other day, because I said wait for the iPhone 6 to come out, get one of those. And she said or maybe I could have your one. She didn’t even get to the end of the sentence before she said no.

Paul Boag:
Yes, Cath is very good; she does allow me to have the latest gadget.

Marcus Lillington: I think I can persuade her on this case because of my inability to see things up close.

Leigh Howells:
You need to really ham up your vision.

Paul Boag:
Well, you’ll buy the new one on the company?

Marcus Lillington: I don’t.

Paul Boag:
Well I am, this one. I do every other one. And this one is due for…

Marcus Lillington: Oh, right. I charge my calls to the company but I don’t buy…I buy the phone.

Paul Boag:
Oh, buy the phone on the company.

Marcus Lillington: No.

Paul Boag:
Do it.

Marcus Lillington: Okay, alright then.

Paul Boag:
Because if you don’t then I feel guilty about doing it.

Marcus Lillington: Oh, I hope you feel guilty.

Paul Boag:
No.

Leigh Howells:
Will you feel even less guilty if I buy one?

Paul Boag:
No.

Leigh Howells:
Oh, I tried.

Paul Boag:
You had the chance to be a founding member of the company right back in the day.

Marcus Lillington: How many times have we been through this on the podcast?

Leigh Howells:
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Paul Boag:
So it’s your own fault; you don’t get a free camera. Camera?

Marcus Lillington: Free camera? Can we buy a camera as well?

Paul Boag:
I could buy the camera. I hadn’t even thought of that.

Marcus Lillington: Sorry, what camera were you looking at? I didn’t see that.

Paul Boag:
It’s a Sony camera and I can’t remember. I will have to put.

Marcus Lillington: Oh, all Sony’s stuff is rubbish.

Leigh Howells:
No.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah.

Paul Boag:
Well, I’ll put a link in the show notes to it.

Leigh Howells:
Just because you had a bad laptop.

Marcus Lillington
Oh, man. That was the worst laptop in the world.

Paul Boag:
It was. That was a terrible buy, terrible. No this is – I think it’s called the…

Leigh Howells:
No, but I’ve had – sorry, Paul.

Paul Boag:
Oh, just interrupt me. That’s fine.

Marcus Lillington: But I’ve had all that Sony…

Leigh Howells:
I love Sony.

Marcus Lillington: Actually, saying that, the Sony music thingy I had, I still have somewhere…

Leigh Howells:
There you go.

Marcus Lillington: The mp3 player was a lovely piece of kit to look at; wasn’t so good to use but it worked. That’s something. It worked.

Leigh Howells:
And it still works.

Marcus Lillington: I don’t know. Well, I’ve had iPhones for years. Why would you use a separate mp3 player?

Paul Boag:
So, I am going to buy myself the new camera and the phone on the business. Chris can’t hear me, so that’s fine.

Marcus Lillington: There are a couple of lenses I’d like.

Leigh Howells:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Oh, buy them on the business too.

Marcus Lillington: Yes, one of them is only £280.

Paul Boag:
We could take it out of Leigh’s salary.

Leigh Howells:
For 50mm?

Marcus Lillington: 50mm, 1.2 or 1.4. 1.2 is £2,500.

Leigh Howells:
Oh, yeah.

Paul Boag:
My problem – the camera that I am after – and I can’t remember the exact one…

Leigh Howells:
Why do you need new camera, Paul? Tell us.

Paul Boag:
Well because I’ve got a bridge camera.

Leigh Howells:
He has got lots of cameras.

Marcus Lillington: He’s actually got – he’s got an answer to this.

Leigh Howells:
You’ve already justified it to yourself, haven’t you?

Paul Boag:
No, it’s totally unjustified. But I find carrying those cameras around – I just don’t take them places.

Marcus Lillington: I agree. That’s why I bought the Fujifilm one.

Paul Boag:
Yes, that’s why I want – it’s basically a small camera but it has interchangeable lenses still.

Marcus Lillington: Oh, it doesn’t have that.

Paul Boag:
But it is tiny. It is much, much more like.

Leigh Howells:
But the interchangeable lenses won’t be tiny.

Paul Boag:
Yes, they are. Well, fairly. Depends on what you want to get obviously.

Leigh Howells:
Well, it’s not going to fit in your pocket, is it?

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Leigh Howells:
No.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Leigh Howells:
You are going to need a bag and then you won’t take it anywhere.

Marcus Lillington: I got a Fujifilm one because…

Paul Boag:
Don’t tell me truthful things, Leigh. I don’t want to know reality.

Marcus Lillington: It’s true though. That’s why I bought that one I bought. It doesn’t take the best pictures in the world but it’s better than your phone.

Paul Boag:
Yes, that’s the problem, isn’t it? You’ve got to have something that is good at – but considerably better than your phone but still small enough to get in your pocket.

Leigh Howells:
But that for me is anything with an optical zoom is better than the phone.

Marcus Lillington: Yes. Which I’ve got.

Leigh Howells:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington: And you can look through it – and it’s got a viewfinder.

Paul Boag:
Yes, that’s another important one for me.

Leigh Howells:
Yeah, I do like viewfinder.

Paul Boag:
That’s another important one for me. Both of which this Sony one has got.

Marcus Lillington: I can’t remember what it’s called. Fuji…

Paul Boag:
I would say link in the show notes but I know he’ll never give me the link, so. And anybody, nobody cares. We’re supposed to talking about web design.

Marcus Lillington: No, honestly, this week’s show is going to be so dull. Let’s talk about cameras.

Paul Boag:
No, it’s not going to be so dull.

Leigh Howells:
You can zip through that list.

Paul Boag:
Don’t say stuff like that. You just totally undermine me.

Marcus Lillington: I can’t remember. It’s an X–20 or something like that.

Paul Boag:
Can we talk about web design? Because we’re talking about forms and nothing’s more exciting. I the world than forms.

Marcus Lillington: I have to show you a picture of it because Dan calls it…

Paul Boag:
You can’t show us a picture of it; we are on an audio podcast.

Marcus Lillington: I can show you a picture of it.

Paul Boag:
Yes, but that’s really unfair on our dear listener.

Marcus Lillington: Really?

Paul Boag:
We’re down to one now because this has been so dull. Are we seriously sitting here while you look this up?

Marcus Lillington: No, no, you don’t have to. I can’t find any pictures. Dan calls it my hipster camera…

Paul Boag:
Oh, okay.

Marcus Lillington: …because it’s got ‘60s styling. That’s the only reason I was trying to show it to you.

Paul Boag:
Okay, well I really didn’t care; that wasn’t worth it.

Marcus Lillington: No. Well, you should have done.

Paul Boag:
So what we’re going to be talking about this week is we’re going to be talking about forms which apparently Leigh and Marcus think are deeply deeply dull. Well what do you want to talk about?

Marcus Lillington: Cameras.

Leigh Howells:
10 best cameras for web design. 10 best gadgets for web designers.

Paul Boag:
Now that is a show.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah.

Paul Boag:
Let’s do that instead.

Leigh Howells:
Right, number one…

Paul Boag:
Oh, do it. Do you reckon we could do it? Shall we totally change the show on the fly?

Leigh Howells:
Go on then.

Marcus Lillington: I might stop recording. There you go, that’s what it looks like: my hipster camera.

Paul Boag:
Oh, that’s really boring.

Leigh Howells:
Oh, I thought it was going to be silver with like leather bits. You’ve got a leather kind of ‘60s flappy bit.

Paul Boag:
You do know that we’re just going to be – if we do this, we’re just going to be pushing back forms till next week. So what is it?

Marcus Lillington: Do forms then we don’t have to think.

Leigh Howells:
Yeah, go on then.

Paul Boag:
That’s terrible.

Marcus Lillington: But it’s true.

Paul Boag:
And also, can I say, you are not just insulting me by saying the form subject is boring, you are insulting Brian Parks because he suggested this and you’ve just dismissed it, which I think is really rude of you all.

Marcus Lillington: It was Leigh.

Paul Boag:
In actual fact, he wanted to do it because…

Marcus Lillington: Leigh egged me on and if he hadn’t have been here I would’ve been very serious about the whole subject.

Paul Boag:
I am sure you would have. He wanted to do the ten top tips for validating your forms, which I felt was a bit specific.

Marcus Lillington: There are 10?

Paul Boag:
Apparently. He wrote 10 good tips; they were really good. But I wanted to broaden it out a little bit and look at the – basically how to make our forms more pleasurable to use. So that’s what we’re going to do and everyone is enthusiastic, aren’t you? Okay, let’s kick off with number one.

Order your fields in a logical manner

Right, so you’ve got to get into the spirit of this. It only works if you really bitch and moan about all the horrible forms that you’ve had to use over the days.

Leigh Howells:
I bloody hate forms. Really, really do.

Paul Boag:
You are just saying that to pretend you care, but actually – have you ever done the ESTA form back in the day? You know when you go to America, you have to fill in the ESTA form.

Leigh Howells:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
That did pretty much everything you could possibly imagine wrong in a form.

Marcus Lillington: Oh, I liked some of the wording on the ESTA form.

Leigh Howells:
You’ve just done some visa applications form for Vietnam and things, haven’t you?

Marcus Lillington: I have.

Leigh Howells:
How are they?

Marcus Lillington: Well that form didn’t even work.

Leigh Howells:
The India visa form was abysmal. Terrible.

Marcus Lillington: Well, basically – this is great because filling in the visa stuff for Vietnam, you’re kind of thinking, hang on a minute, they’ve just told me that but slightly differently.

Leigh Howells:
They try to trick you out.

Marcus Lillington: What am I supposed to do? And don’t remind me this, my passports are currently somewhere in a London post office.

Paul Boag:
Oh, dear. You’re not…

Marcus Lillington: Weren’t delivered and then I am trying to get them re-delivered. Anyway, their form – which they say go, click on this link to fill in the form – and immediately after that in brackets, if form does not work, download this document. So I’ve gone through to the form, no it doesn’t work, tried a different browser, no it doesn’t work, tried different browser, no it doesn’t work, it’s obviously an IE and Windows only form.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, right.

Marcus Lillington: And so I then had to do it all by hand.

Paul Boag:
That’s unbelievable.

Leigh Howells:
The India one, we were doing Alisa’s Indian application visa form last night and it says you can save this form but the first page is massive, then you press the save button and it throws up validation errors. Then they go away, then it throws up an error and tries to take you to the next page and then you are not really sure if it’s saved or not, so you’re kind of left in a quandary because you want it to stop basically.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Leigh Howells:
And that feeling of, do I have to do all this again and then we had to close it and try it out. That’s awfully satisfying. Oh, thank God for that, it’s all there.

Paul Boag:
See now it shouldn’t be that difficult, should it?

Leigh Howells:
Forms. No, it’s horrible.

Paul Boag:
So they are – so it is a valid subject and the first point is, on the ESTA form one of the things that used to really annoy me – they have improved it somewhat – but you used to…

Marcus Lillington: Moral turpitude; that’s the one they use.

Paul Boag:
Oh yes.

Marcus Lillington: I probably have at some point.

Paul Boag:
Absolutely. The fields all are over the place. It doesn’t… It just jumps around the page, it’s like, oh okay, so which field do I, oh, there is one right over here somewhere. So that’s kind of first point: just stack and order your fields in a nice logical way. And I always think you are best as well to stack the fields vertically down the page with the label directly above them because it makes scanning so much easier, especially on a mobile device.

Leigh Howells:
Yes, I filled in something yesterday where they put the form field below the field and I had to – it’s that situation where you just kind of…

Paul Boag:
What, the label below the field?

Leigh Howells:
Yes, the label below the field. And I had to kind of get back to the top and work out by looking at the top.

Leigh Howells:
Because of the spacing and things. It was bizarre.

Marcus Lillington: No. Surely not? I don’t mind them if they are on the left of the big screen. That’s alright.

Paul Boag:
It’s okay, but from a scan-ability point of view, if they are all stacked neatly much, much better. So that’s my first point. Order and stack your fields in a logical manner.

Markup your forms well

Marcus Lillington: So, Leigh, you’ve got something else to say on the subject, have you?

Paul Boag:
It just makes it so hard when I do the show notes.

Marcus Lillington: This is excellent because it’s normally me that does this.

Leigh Howells:
Oh, are you editing?

Marcus Lillington
No, I am not editing.

Paul Boag:
No, so there will be a musical gap, we’re supposed to be onto the second point now but we’re still talking about the first one, so when I do the show notes, basically it’s going to make no sense.

Leigh Howells:
Right.

Paul Boag:
What else have you to got to say?

Marcus Lillington: This better be important.

Paul Boag:
This better be damn good.

Leigh Howells:
It was very relevant.

Paul Boag:
Go on then.

Leigh Howells:
Just for responsive approaches that having it in that format is the easiest to actually lay out.

Paul Boag:
It is, absolutely.

Leigh Howells:
So there is no reason not to do it and people who try to fill up gaps on a page in space, they’re thinking of a desktop layout, or that form field, could we bring it up there because it’s below the fold or something like that: it is just nonsense.

Paul Boag:
Nonsense he says. Raaah.

Leigh Howells:
Big long list. Good for everyone.

Marcus Lillington: What’s wrong with designing for wide screens as well as narrow ones?

Paul Boag:
Yes, good point.

Leigh Howells:
Yeah, that is now a good point. I have now collapsed.

Paul Boag:
Leigh can’t stand up to any kind of cross-examination.

Leigh Howells:
No, you are right. Yeah, forget everything I just said.

Paul Boag:
Okay. One of the things I love about Leigh is he’s really good at presenting an argument until he’s required to think on his feet, at which point he falls into a big heap.

Leigh Howells:
It just collapses, my whole argument. I suppose, yes, but it has got to be designed linearly for the order and for the hierarchy.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah but you can…I think this is a perfect example of when you can still keep things in kind of labeled field, labeled field, labeled field or the other way to be honest, label field label field. And then when you get into a narrow one, they all stack on top of each other. That’s a logical way of using it.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Leigh Howells:
Yes, that’s fine. But not off, field, field, cross.

Paul Boag:
Yes, but not where you… I don’t like it where you have fields running across the screen.

Marcus Lillington: Absolutely, yes. Oh, we’ve got, we can fit a three on this line, so we’ll have three where there is one big long one underneath, yeah, unless it’s a special type of field like a bank sort code.

Paul Boag:
Or a name, first name. Though why split it? Why you can’t do it – no, that comes onto other point, actually.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah, yeah. What’s number two, Paul?

Paul Boag:
No, I am making you stop at this point and edit it properly. I refuse to go onto number two.

Marcus Lillington: But it wouldn’t be funny.

Paul Boag:
No, you’ve got to stop it. We’re going to just sit here in silence because I am not carrying on.

Marcus Lillington: Okay.

Paul Boag:
See I know, that didn’t sound right. That wasn’t a stop. Oh, God, I give up. Let’s go onto number two. Right. Number two is to use proper mark up. So I hate labels that aren’t really labels because a great thing about a label on a form is you can click on the label and it focuses on the field or you know using field sets to kind of group things together and stuff. It’s crap from an accessibility point of view, it’s fiddly on a mobile device if you can’t hit the label as well and it’s just bad, so make sure you use proper mark up for your fields and just do it properly ya buggers.

Marcus Lillington: Yes.

Paul Boag:
Because that really annoys me and it’s not difficult to mark up a form properly but so often it’s like, especially with labels, that they mark them up in a P tag or something. Well, what’s the point of having a label tag if you are not going to use it?

Leigh Howells:
There’s plenty of good examples out there, which you can just copy and paste the code to get the idea of the right layout and the right structure. So there is no excuse really, is there?

Paul Boag:
No, none whatsoever. Has anyone else got anything else to say on that point before we move on? Think carefully because once we move on that’s it, no going back.

Leigh Howells:
No, I really haven’t.

Paul Boag:
Are we sure?

Marcus Lillington: Done.

Never make the user deal with your problems

Paul Boag:
So this is the one where I get most opinionated, right?

Marcus Lillington: Right.

Paul Boag:
But now this is about half a dozen different points all rolled into one which is never made the use – sorry, your problems.

Marcus Lillington: Okay so we’ve actually got the 16 ways to make your forms a pleasure to use.

Paul Boag:
Probably, yes. Never make your problems your user problems. So, I’ll give you two examples, one of which we’ve already mentioned already, right? Why do I have to put my first name in one field and my second name in another field, right? Why can’t you just – the developer split that? I know it’s possible because I’ve seen it done. I know it’s possible because I’ve built it before. There is no reason. Another one is, I’ll give you another example, credit cards, right? Why do I have to say, this is a Visa card or a MasterCard?

Leigh Howells:
Why don’t they just know from the four digits, yeah. I know.

Paul Boag:
It does know. Yeah, you know from the digits. Why do sometimes I have to put a space in my post code while other times I don’t?

Leigh Howells:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Why do I sometimes have to split up a credit card number and include the spaces in it?

Leigh Howells:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Or if I don’t include the spaces I’m supposed to have.

Leigh Howells:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Leigh Howells:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
See, Leigh is getting into this now. You’re getting into the heart of things. And it is so bloody annoying. Another example… Go on.

Marcus Lillington: Saying whether it’s a Visa or a MasterCard isn’t exactly that difficult though, is it?

Paul Boag:
No, but why – but it is, right?

Leigh Howells:
But they’ve made you do it.

Paul Boag:
I’ll give you an example. Only yesterday…

Marcus Lillington: It’s so difficult.

Paul Boag:
I’ll tell you, yesterday, I was buying tickets for Comicon because I am that sad. And I was going through the process, please select what type of card. Okay, so I selected Visa, right? Went through, filled in my credit card details, it went through to a different screen to enter the credit card details, so I selected Visa, it’s given me a Visa page. Fill in the information, sorry, you’ve selected the wrong card. So I went back again. Now I am Visa, right, click Visa, go through, fill it in. No, you’ve selected the wrong – this number does not work with this card at which point I am really confused. It was because I was using a Visa credit card.

Leigh Howells:
Yes, I’ve had exactly the same problem. Visa and Visa debit are very confusing.

Paul Boag:
Very confusing.

Leigh Howells:
Very.

Marcus Lillington: So did you have Visa debit as an option?

Paul Boag:
Yes, but I missed.

Marcus Lillington: So, you are blind.

Paul Boag:
Yes, but then why… But, I don’t care.

Marcus Lillington: This is why they have to ask you because quite often they will charge you for – they won’t charge you for using a debit but they will for using a credit card. That’s why they have to ask you whether they’re – because you need to know whether you are going to get charged if you are using a credit card.

Paul Boag:
Sure, absolutely, but you could fill in your number and then it tells you that there is a 50p charge or whatever.

Marcus Lillington: I would rather it was the other way round because it’s one click to say which card it is rather than 16 numbers typing in.

Paul Boag:
Again, I would argue that they shouldn’t be charging you.

Leigh Howells:
Well, yes, fair enough but that’s a different argument. That’s not a forms argument.

Paul Boag:
So, my point is – alright, let me give you a … But whether I – it was – yes, it was a mistake on my part but it’s a mistake that they could have recovered for me and they didn’t and that’s my problem with it.

Marcus Lillington: It just needs – all it needs is a – if you are going to charge for using credit card, it just needs to say that.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington: And then you type your number in.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington: We will charge if you use a credit card.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington: Put your number in. Done.

Paul Boag:
Exactly. So, spam, another example. Captchas, right, Captcha forms. Or any variation; two plus two or what’s the third letter in apple or whatever it is.

Leigh Howells:
I like the ones where you have to like drag a little picture. They’re fun.

Paul Boag:
They try and make it fun but essentially they’re still forcing…

Leigh Howells:
Yeah, make it fun.

Paul Boag:
…forcing you to do something that’s unnecessary.

Leigh Howells:
Yeah, they are.

Paul Boag:
You can do – you can use honey pots to kind of capture it all.

Marcus Lillington: They don’t work though.

Paul Boag:
They do good to some extent. There are ample services out there that are really good to do that kind of spam capturing. There are so many server-side technologies to deal with this; you don’t need to make it the users’ problems.

Leigh Howells:
Really? I didn’t really know that.

Marcus Lillington: Spapture.

Paul Boag:
Spapture?

Marcus Lillington: Spam and Captcha together.

Paul Boag:
Are you just making up words?

Marcus Lillington: Yes, I am just making up words.

Paul Boag:
I thought it was some new technology that I was unaware of.

Leigh Howells:
It is now.

Marcus Lillington: Someone has already got it, it’s too late.

Paul Boag:
Too late, it’s gone. So yes, this whole thing of just like laziness is what it basically is.

Leigh Howells:
Well they put in the effort to give all the errors for all these things and they don’t put it into the actual solution.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, you could stop the error in the first place. Yes. Very good point, I never thought of it this way.

Leigh Howells:
It’s like or the classic is you’re trying to do a password and they will throw up all the errors. You know, you need to add special character. Well, why don’t you just make your passwords more secure so you can have a special character rather than coding the error to say you can’t have special characters?

Paul Boag:
Yes, or alternatively, allow me to have a password phrase. This is something – because if you had a like this is my password – no that would be a shit one obviously. Probably not the best choice. My name is Fifi and I like wearing tutus could be your password phrase. And because it’s so long, actually it’s very secure. And it’s easier to type, don’t need any weird special characters, much easier to remember.

Marcus Lillington: Passwords should be like that.

Paul Boag:
Exactly.

Marcus Lillington: When you’ve got it must include a dollar sign and a number and a capital letter, no one ever remembers all of those.

Paul Boag:
No.

Marcus Lillington: Because you do it slightly differently for each time you and think oh, shit.

Paul Boag:
And then of course different sites have got different requirements. So, oh no, I can’t use my normal password on that, which you shouldn’t be doing any way.

Leigh Howells:
Normal password.

Paul Boag:
You can say till you’re blue in the face: oh, you should have a different password for every site. Yes, you should do, but people don’t and won’t.

Marcus Lillington: Yes.

Leigh Howells:
I do.

Marcus Lillington: Really?

Leigh Howells:
And I can rely quite a lot on the ‘forgotten your password’ field.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Leigh Howells:
It’s quite easy, you just press that and you get your password. Thank you.

Paul Boag:
Well, I don’t either because I use a password manager so that kind of deals with it. I have software to solve all my problems in life.

Marcus Lillington: Bank password is different, everything else is more pretty much the same or variations of a theme.

Paul Boag:
So, what do we know about Marcus? His dog’s name. What’s his dog’s name?

Marcus Lillington: Shit.

Paul Boag:
Straight away.

Leigh Howells:
Actually you say a phrase, I use phrases but I use the first letter of each word in the phase, so you actually end up with quite a complex password because it’s just a random character. So mn – my name is Fifi – mnif. You know, so you don’t forget it because of the phrase.

Paul Boag:
But it’s still not going to have special characters in it or whatever; that’s the problem.

Leigh Howells:
You just have to add some shit at the end, don’t you?

Paul Boag:
And use some capital letters.

Leigh Howells:
My password is so complicated, it doesn’t matter.

Paul Boag:
And whenever it says, yeah, use a number, you know someone’s added one to the end. Whenever it says use a capital letter you know that’s the first letter in the password is going to be a capital and it’s just – it’s all so predictable that this [indiscernible]. Anyway, that wasn’t even on my list, passwords.

Leigh Howells:
Yes, but we’re all quite – they’re contentious…

Marcus Lillington: Is having to put in your email twice in there?

Paul Boag:
Probably, yes.

Marcus Lillington: Because that’s really annoying.

Leigh Howells:
See, we’re getting into forms now, aren’t we?

Paul Boag:
Yes, see it doesn’t take long, does it?

Marcus Lillington: That really bugs me because everyone highlights it and copy and pastes it to the next one, so why bother?

Paul Boag:
Yes, exactly. Absolutely. Okay, shall we move onto the next one? Have we finished talking about making our problems user problems?

Marcus Lillington: Yeah.

Leigh Howells:
Depends how fun it is.

Marcus Lillington: What is it?

Paul Boag:
What, what are you talking about?

Marcus Lillington: What is what?

Leigh Howells:
The next one, is it good?

Marcus Lillington: Is it good? Well, we’re going to go to it whether it’s good or not?

Paul Boag:
Well you can see it.

Leigh Howells:
What number are we up to?

Paul Boag:
You’ve mentioned this, this is number four next. You’ve already mentioned this one.

Leigh Howells:
Oh, yeah.

Remember the page state if the user exists

Paul Boag:
You really lost the momentum at the end of that.

Leigh Howells:
I just whittered on.

Paul Boag:
You just stripped to hell…We built up this excitement and we were beginning to get really into forms and then you were like what’s next then.

Leigh Howells:
Marcus does so much editing. He’ll just edit that out, make it smooth and professional.

Marcus Lillington: Yes, I will.

Paul Boag:
One day he will edit a show. Is like, what I’ve got to do to…

Marcus Lillington: Normally when you say things, I think…

Paul Boag:
So if I say…

Marcus Lillington: I better chop that out.

Paul Boag:
So, if I say anything…I so want to.

Marcus Lillington: No, don’t because I might forget.

Paul Boag:
Because you might forget. Okay, so next up, is remember the state, if a page is exited. This goes back to your Indian form.

Leigh Howells:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
So the idea that…

Marcus Lillington: So, moving on.

Paul Boag:
Yes, there’s not a lot to add to it but is it important. It’s like – because so often – I mean we’ve all been in the situation of half way through filling a form and your browser crashes or the worst ones is the banks that always time you out, don’t they? And I completely understand that in a bank’s case and fair enough, but it’s like in other situations, you’re half way through filling a form and you realize, oh, I don’t know my national insurance number or whatever it wants, so you go and find it, by the time you get back the whole thing is timed out and you’ve got to start again. So just save peoples’ progress as they go along for crying out loud.

Marcus Lillington: This is just about – all this is good UX, isn’t it?

Leigh Howells:
It is.

Paul Boag:
Yes, yes.

Marcus Lillington: It’s just about designing stuff properly before you build it.

Paul Boag:
Absolutely but it still doesn’t happen. You could say this whole podcast and our entire career and my blog and everything is about good digital practice, that’s the idea of the podcast.

Marcus Lillington: He’s being sarcastic now.

Paul Boag:
Well this deserves it.

Marcus Lillington: But it doesn’t suit you.

Paul Boag:
Yes, it does. I was made to be sarcastic.

Marcus Lillington: No, you are made to be really enthusiastic.

Paul Boag:
Yes, I was. I am the Tigger of the web design world.

Marcus Lillington: There you go.

Paul Boag:
Right, should we move onto number 5 then?

Make sure the user is aware of errors

Okay, so next one is – oh, I’ve just received a really exciting email.

Marcus Lillington: Really?

Paul Boag:
Sorry, this is – I am going to stop.

Leigh Howells:
Camera dispatched.

Paul Boag:
No, they fixed my phone and it’s coming back to me. I really seriously feel like someone has sliced my arm off. I can’t – it’s horrible not having your phone.

Leigh Howells:
Yeah, yeah. Haven’t you got a backup? You haven’t got some…

Paul Boag:
Well, yeah, I’ve got it backed up.

Leigh Howells:
I mean a backup phone.

Paul Boag:
You reckon I’ve got a second phone?

Leigh Howells:
Yeah, you’re other…

Paul Boag:
I’m not that bad. Well, I’ve got my iPad Mini, so I am surviving with that, but it’s not the same. Oh, yeah, we were doing a podcast, that was it.

Leigh Howells:
That’s the thing, yeah.

Paul Boag:
Right, placing validation messages next to the appropriate field.

Marcus Lillington: Oh, no, in the red box at the top, that’s where they are supposed to be.

Leigh Howells:
Yeah, scroll up the page to find it. What’s happening? Oh, it’s up there.

Paul Boag:
Exactly. So absolutely crap and this leads straight onto number six so I am going to do number six at the same time.

Marcus Lillington: You confuse me now.

Paul Boag:
I know. Which is that if you’re going to – you get to the bottom of the page, you hit submit and it hasn’t done it, but it does – it just leaves you sitting at the bottom of the page and you think has it submitted, so I click submit again. Oh, it has loaded the page but nothing’s changed. And it’s because there is a validation message higher in the page or whatever form, field that you screwed up and you can’t see it. It’s stupid. Validation is so so simple. What you do is as people move from one field to a next, you give them a validation message then, if they hit the submit button and there are still validation errors, then you just either display a message next to the submit button where the user is currently looking or you scroll…

Marcus Lillington: I switched him off. You’re in teacher mode now.

Paul Boag:
Well it gets up my nose.

Marcus Lillington: Quite right too. It does.

Leigh Howells:
I’ve put up with this shit for so long, I’ve stopped noticing it. This is like, well actually you’re kind of – it’s like a standard routine where you are pointing out. It’s observational stuff which I’ve just got used to.

Paul Boag:
I know, it’s horrible, isn’t it?

Leigh Howells:
Just used to this.

Paul Boag:
Do you know what’s set me thinking about this again, and I’ll put a link in the show notes to this, a routine by Michael McIntyre.

Leigh Howells:
Oh, right.

Paul Boag:
Did you see that?

Marcus Lillington: Yeah, yeah.

Paul Boag:
Did you see that?

Leigh Howells:
I’m not sure if I ever watched it.

Paul Boag:
If you haven’t watched it guys, go – stop the podcast now and go to show notes and find the link because it’s totally worth watching it and it’s him just ranting about online booking. We’re talking about people booking for the show that he is on and all the Captcha and all this and it is so funny but it has made me notice it all again, because you’re right, you do get blind to this stuff, don’t you?

Leigh Howells:
Yeah, you put up with it. That’s what you have to do.

Paul Boag:
You do. It’s not good enough. So there we go, I won’t finish my teacher-ish rant. Apparently it’s not acceptable. So let’s move on to number seven.

Facilitate easy tabbing

Friggin tab orders; that’s another one that annoys me because a lot of people don’t even realize you can tab between fields which I think is sad.

Marcus Lillington: Yes.

Paul Boag:
Older generation don’t. I’ve seen…

Marcus Lillington: They click on every one.

Leigh Howells:
Yes, I never use it.

Paul Boag:
Don’t you?

Leigh Howells:
No.

Paul Boag:
You click manually in between fields?

Leigh Howells:
Yes, I think I do. I suppose I know…

Paul Boag:
Well, you are of that age.

Leigh Howells:
It’s just a habit, isn’t it?

Marcus Lillington: Well I don’t trust it, that’s why.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Leigh Howells:
Perhaps that’s why. I tried it, it’s failed so I…

Paul Boag:
I press tab and you end up at the bottom field.

Marcus Lillington: And also, because as we discussed earlier, you have just one line or have three little boxes on it and I one random one over here and then over there and you’ve think well, hang on a minute, I’ll do that one over there to get it out of the way. So therefore I have to click back up to the top.

Leigh Howells:
Sometimes I am a bit scared of pressing anything that might accidently submit it in case I lose it all. That’s the simplest way.

Paul Boag:
You sounded like a dithery old man now, Leigh.

Leigh Howells:
Well, no, forms make you feel like a dithery old man because they can be such a pain.

Paul Boag:
Yes, absolutely.

Leigh Howells:
And the time you waste redoing stuff.

Paul Boag:
And you do – there is something about it where you just presume it’s your fault. I think computers have that with them generally. People predict – and we always – when we did usability testing with Wiltshire Farm Food’s audience which is an older audience, they always felt like it was their fault, they were always apologizing.

Leigh Howells:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
It’s like you shouldn’t be apologizing, the system has to work for you, not the other way round.

Leigh Howells:
Oh, I’ve broken it; it doesn’t work.

Paul Boag:
And it’s all this stuff there’s lots of talks now about, critical user interface that makes you feel like a superhero. What? And it’s like – well at the moment most of them make me feel like a vegetable, not like a superhero. And tab ordering is one of them. It’s like because I use tabbing a lot. Tab, where has it gone? And of course sometimes they don’t – some designer, some precious designer has turned off the outline around the field, so I don’t know whether I am focused on the field or not because there is nothing to indicate it is. I mean it is just…yeah. Facilitate tabbing

Leigh Howells:
But yes, so is clicking on touchscreens has kind of helped reinforce clicking on fields for me as well.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Leigh Howells:
Because there is no tabbing. You just press, type, press.

Paul Boag:
That’s true. But there is the equivalent tabbing because of next and previous buttons in your browser that pop up.

Leigh Howells:
Are there? Really?

Paul Boag:
When you next fill in a form on your iPhone or iPad and you’re focused on a field, you can type in, there is a little next link that moves to the next field which is really useful because by the time you got the keyboard up, you haven’t got actually very much to see, so it saves scrolling through it all.

Leigh Howells:
You’re kidding?

Paul Boag:
No, I am not.

Leigh Howells:
Yeah, because I have had to pull the keyboard down to scroll up a bit. Press the button.

Paul Boag:
No, there is a button there.

Marcus Lillington: I think I know this and what he is saying and just do it.

Leigh Howells:
Maybe.

Paul Boag:
Without realizing you’re doing it.

Marcus Lillington: Yes.

Leigh Howells:
Yeah, can’t remember.

Paul Boag:
Yes, definitely. Well you do use – you have an inferior phone so I don’t know whether…

Marcus Lillington: Oh, that will be it.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington: You have a crappy phone.

Leigh Howells:
I have an iPad as well.

Paul Boag:
What operating system does that use, Windows XP? What is it? Is it Android?

Leigh Howells:
It’s Kit-Kat, yes.

Paul Boag:
Kit-Kit, oh okay. Well, Kit-Kat surely supports that?

Leigh Howells:
I don’t know. Perhaps I don’t fill many forms in on my phone, having talked about touch screens.

Paul Boag:
You’re going to have to find a form now. There is a form on the Boagworld homepage to sign up for our newsletter. And there is only three fields so go ahead and do that right now, everybody. That was subtle. Did you like the segue there? Our newsletter isn’t half getting a lot of subscribers; it’s really quite a big mailing list now.

Leigh Howells:
Is it because it’s so simple and short and easy to fill in?

Marcus Lillington: What, I thought you were going to say the newsletter then. So, simple and short.

Leigh Howells:
The newsletter.

Marcus Lillington: Hi my name is Paul.

Paul Boag:
The author is so simple, perhaps that’s the great thing about it. Yes, so, yes, I bet you can tab between them. I just thought I had to check. Although I have noticed that – oh no, you can see that you’ve tabbed between them, that’s okay. Right, should we move onto number eight?

Use clear, minimal instructions

Okay, number eight is clear, minimal instructions. This gets up my nose.

Marcus Lillington: Use clear, minimal instructions. That’s what it says.

Paul Boag:
Oh, sorry. I didn’t know I had to read it word for word.

Marcus Lillington: So, yes, okay, you could be saying they are rubbish, clear, minimum instructions.

Paul Boag:
Yes, that’s true, yes, I am – let me make my confusion absolutely clear: I am a great fan of clear, minimal instructions. I am Paul Boag and I have approved this message. Alright? So, in other words, no, don’t, no double negatives. No, if you wish to unsubscribe to this newsletter.

Marcus Lillington: I wish people would use them more because they make me laugh. Although do you find that you read them over and over again now. Are they trying to trick me?

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington: But most people don’t.

Paul Boag:
They are just so annoying and as few words as possible with things like that because people presume they are trying to trick you and if it’s not as short and to the point as possible, you are going to get yourself into all kinds of mare and people are going to… I mean the one, for example, going back to the Boag newsletter, it says, we might like to contact you, tick here if that is okay. Short, simple, clear, much, much better, he says modestly about his own work. And then the other is error messages.

Marcus Lillington: They are really helpful, aren’t they?

Paul Boag:
Yeah, ones that say Error 50269. Seriously you get – and do you know what, I’ve even have that on like…

Marcus Lillington: Database line 63.

Paul Boag:
Yes, but I’ve had it as well before on like Apple products, where it’s thrown an error – syncing, iTunes syncing. I mean this isn’t a form but it is an error message. Some generic error message, kind of unable to sync or whatever, error 4963, but it doesn’t tell me what I might want to do with that error message. I accept that it might be a very technical…

Marcus Lillington: Shove it up their arse.

Paul Boag:
We’ve lost Leigh entirely because he is trying to find the buttons for tabbing between fields.

Leigh Howells:
Yes, Android doesn’t have any.

Paul Boag:
Android doesn’t have them?

Leigh Howells:
You just type and then they come down…

Paul Boag:
Oh, no, that’s really sad. See Android is inferior.

Leigh Howells:
But why do you need the buttons if you just scroll up and down whilst you’re typing in the field.

Marcus Lillington: You have to remember that your phone is the size of a laptop.

Leigh Howells:
So I can see plenty of the screen.

Marcus Lillington: You can see it.

Leigh Howells:
Yes, perhaps that’s the thing.

Paul Boag:
Anyway.

Leigh Howells:
What were you talking about? I have no idea what you were talking about?

Paul Boag:
We were talking about crappy error messages.

Leigh Howells:
Oh right, and that’s why you were giving error numbers. That’s bad, very bad.

Paul Boag:
Yes, and a developer should never be allowed to write an error message. That is a rule of thumb.

Marcus Lillington: Content specialist should write an error message.

Paul Boag:
Yes, a content person…

Leigh Howells:
Yes, microcopy.

Paul Boag:
Yes. And we so often don’t give attention to microcopy. If you are a developer out there and feel offended by my comments, I would say on your behalf that that is not your fault, that is because nobody else gives you the copy, so here’s a thing, if you want to be a stroppy developer, which all developers want to be, they all aspire to be as stroppy and argumentative as possible, at least in my experience, you should think…

Marcus Lillington: Ian is really, really not stroppy.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, I notice you don’t mention Chris Henderson there.

Leigh Howells:
Oh, yeah, Ian will just, yeah whatever, yeah.

Marcus Lillington: Chris is okay; he just has a rant every now and then.

Paul Boag:
Yes, all of our developers are lovely. I know none of them listen to the podcast so it doesn’t really matter.

Marcus Lillington: You can say what you like.

Paul Boag:
They are pain in arse. If you are a developer, refuse to write error messages. Just say, that’s going to completely break until I get copy for that and stick with it because they are a really important copy. You put instructional copy and error messages are really important. Sorry?

Leigh Howells:
You put it in your generic sort of task error whatever it is, tracking thing, assign it to somebody, need copy for error.

Paul Boag:
Need copy for error, yes. Use your Basecamp or whatever. If in doubt…

Marcus Lillington: Do they use Basecamp, developers, given the choice?

Paul Boag:
Sometimes, yes, well no.

Leigh Howells:
It’s complicated enough.

Marcus Lillington: Jira.

Leigh Howells:
Jira.

Paul Boag:
We are on dangerous ground here. Actually to be fair I think you were already on dangerous ground. I think I put us on dangerous ground. Right, next one.

Don’t ask users to enter field information you can lookup

Don’t ask me for fields that you are capable of looking up. So we already mentioned the credit card one. I am now desperately trying to think another example.

Leigh Howells:
You should know where I live.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, do you not? Well I’ll tell you another really good example is where you are already registered with the system for whatever but you are signing up for something new and it doesn’t pass the data across. Look, I am a registered user, all I want is your newsletter, why are you asking me for all this information again.

Leigh Howells:
We know the reality, it’s like a different database on a different system and they haven’t got the mechanism to get it across.

Paul Boag:
No excuse.

Leigh Howells:
There is no excuse.

Paul Boag:
That again, it goes back to making your problems the problems of your users and it’s not acceptable.

Marcus Lillington: Well, how about just make forms shorter.

Leigh Howells:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington: Make them as short as they possibly can.

Leigh Howells:
Like the Boagworld one.

Make every field justify itself

Paul Boag:
Like you mean point number ten, make every field justify itself.

Marcus Lillington: Oh, yes, that’s number ten. I thought you meant like in a kind of text kind of way.

Paul Boag:
Is that really what you thought?

Marcus Lillington: No, that isn’t what I thought, Paul, no.

Paul Boag:
Just for minute. Well, we might as well carry on with number ten, mightn’t we? Because we have already said that as well which was Marcus likes it when this is over because we already said why do you need to enter your email twice which I think you said earlier, didn’t you? Once again, jumping ahead.

Marcus Lillington: You can understand why because I know email addresses are really valuable things for an organization but everyone just copies it.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington: So you’re getting the wrong one twice.

Paul Boag:
Yes. It doesn’t actually reduce errors in any way, shape or form so why bother.

Marcus Lillington: I suspect that there’s probably testing that marketeers could throw at me saying well we’ve tested it and quite a lot of people do type it in twice and we get so many errors thrown up. So they will argue that it is valuable but it is bloody annoying especially when your email address is marcus.lillington@headscape.co.uk.

Paul Boag:
I don’t – why don’t – just use marcus@headscape.co.uk?

Marcus Lillington: I know.

Paul Boag:
Or, as I suggested, turn it into marcus.headscape.co.

Marcus Lillington: No, that’s just annoying. It’s an incomplete e-mail address.

Paul Boag:
You are just stuck in the past. If it’s not .co.uk or .com it doesn’t count as a proper domain name for you.

Marcus Lillington: .org is alright.

Paul Boag:
Oh, .org is ok.

Marcus Lillington: And .org.uk.

Paul Boag:
But we are not an org.

Marcus Lillington: No.

Paul Boag:
Well we are an org but not the kind of org they are taking about.

Leigh Howells:
You should use TextExpander where you set up all kinds of short codes like MW.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: I don’t care about that much. You have to be passionate about this.

Paul Boag:
I just type into my email address EBW or EHS depending on whether you’re Headscape or Boagworld.

Leigh Howells:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Yes, get with the cool kits. In fact actually you don’t even need a text expander for that; that is built into your Windows operating system and will sync across on to your iPhone and your iPad too.

Leigh Howells:
Windows?

Paul Boag:
I didn’t mean Windows, I meant Mac operating system. Sorry I looked at Marcus and thought, must be a Windows user, so.

Marcus Lillington: That’s harsh.

Paul Boag:
Why is it harsh? Are you saying that Windows is inferior, Marcus?

Marcus Lillington: I think you were saying that.

Paul Boag:
I wasn’t saying that.

Marcus Lillington: I do believe they were.

Paul Boag:
You know why I wasn’t saying that? Because for so long I criticized Mac users on this show that I would have no…

Marcus Lillington: Did you?

Paul Boag:
Oh, I was terrible, yeah. For years saying they were bunch of snobs and I now am one of those snobs. But the sad truth is, I was entirely right. All those years, slagging of Mac users, every word I said was entirely justified. I just now happen to be one of those snobbish, elitist gits.

Leigh Howells:
And you are happy to admit that? Yeah, fine.

Paul Boag:
Yes I am because I’ve been indoctrinated. I’ve been brain washed by Apple.

Marcus Lillington: Must buy new Apple product. How often you look at the Apple Store, Paul?

Paul Boag:
Not that often because I read all the rumor sites. So I even research into products that don’t exist.

Marcus Lillington: Right.

Paul Boag:
That might one day exist. What about the patent applications as well, that, you know, every time Apple submits a patent, I’m there. I like to know.

Leigh Howells:
Credit card ready.

Paul Boag:
I am really quite scared about this period between now and December because…

Marcus Lillington: What? It might get a bit colder?

Paul Boag:
No, because Apple are saying they’ve got the most extensive line-up of new products ever.

Leigh Howells:
Oh, are they?

Paul Boag:
That’s the rumor and so I am really worried about my bank account and I am worried about my marriage too.

Marcus Lillington: Don’t worry about your bank account, just put it all on the company.

Paul Boag:
Oh, yes. I am worried about Chris now then.

Marcus Lillington: There you go.

Paul Boag:
Although I wonder how much he would take to turn him violent.

Marcus Lillington: He would never get to that point. He’d just walk away.

Paul Boag:
Would he?

Marcus Lillington: Yes. He’d throw something down on the ground shout that’s it.

Paul Boag:
If I went out today and bought myself a new Mac, new Apple TV, new iPhone, new iPad and an iWatch, what he would do?

Marcus Lillington: As we now know, he can actually move in time faster than anyone else. He can be the person behind the desk when they go out to check the card or whatever that you’ve just given: sorry sir, this has been declined because Chris is out the back.

Paul Boag:
He did this to us, right? We were in Chicago.

Marcus Lillington: He was in New York to be fair. Same continent.

Paul Boag:
Same part of the world, we were in Chicago and we were flying back to the UK and our flight got delayed and we were both absolutely knackered so we thought we’ll upgrade to business class, right? Outrageously expensive, shameful it was. Actually it wasn’t as bad as I thought.

Marcus Lillington: £500 each.

Paul Boag:
Yes, which is pretty but anyway. But anyway, we said to the lady we’d like to upgrade. Oh, yes, sir, not a problem, sir. She said just a moment, just need to pop out the back, she pops out the back and there’s some mumbling that goes on, right? She comes back and says no sir, you can’t have that.

Leigh Howells:
Really?

Paul Boag:
He was out the back. I swear it. Chris was out the back.

Leigh Howells:
He wasn’t out the back.

Marcus Lillington: And I said. Is it full? No. Why can’t we have it then?

Paul Boag:
We can’t sell it to you, sir.

Leigh Howells:
Really?

Paul Boag:
Because Chris was out there telling them no.

Leigh Howells:
Or has he got a hotline.

Paul Boag:
I don’t know what he was doing but he was on the case. There was no way we were going to get to upgrade to business class.

Leigh Howells:
It pops up in a box on their system saying we must call Chris Scott with this number, then he validates.

Paul Boag:
Yes, I think so.

Leigh Howells:
Business class!

Marcus Lillington: It just rings him straight away.

Paul Boag:
As soon as Marcus takes his credit card out of the wallet, Chris gets a call.

Marcus Lillington: We should listen out for phones ringing. There he is.

Paul Boag:
There we go. So that is this week’s podcast.

Leigh Howells:
There was a form related a form-related news thing this week, wasn’t there, about dark patterns.

Paul Boag:
Oh, yes, some have been made it legal, haven’t they, by the EU.

Leigh Howells:
Yeah. Have you ever seen the Ryanair one?

Paul Boag:
No.

Leigh Howells:
It’s amazing. About the…

Paul Boag:
Tell me about the Ryanair one.

Leigh Howells:
Well, you select all your flight details and then on the next page they’ve pre-filled in the insurance bit and it’s a county list and you basically have to click on the country list.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Leigh Howells:
Denmark and under D is ‘do not want insurance’. So you actually have to go down this country list to find that bit to actually get out of the insurance.

Paul Boag:
Otherwise they charge you for insurance?

Leigh Howells:
Otherwise it just goes onto the total, yes.

Paul Boag:
That is outrageous. So the European…

Leigh Howells:
So I guess that’s the kind of thing that is banned.

Paul Boag:
So the European Commission has banned this kind of stuff, have they?

Leigh Howells:
Yes. I think so. I hope so because it’s absurd.

Paul Boag:
Good for them, yes. So I’ll put a link in the show notes to that because I did read that.

Leigh Howells:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
And it does look really good, I found it really encouraging.

Marcus Lillington: Ryanair: they’re such a good, wholesome company, aren’t they?

Paul Boag:
So, we need to wrap up because Chris has got his face pinned to the door and telling us that he wants our credit cards back.

Marcus Lillington: Telling us you will never spend a credit card ever again.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. So let’s wrap up this week’s show and we will be back again next week when we will do the 10 gadgets every digital professional should own.

Marcus Lillington: Really, we are going to do that?

Paul Boag:
Yeah, we are. Why not? Cool, let’s do that. So, back again next week, bye.

Leigh Howells:
Bye.

Marcus Lillington: What about the joke?

Paul Boag:
Well, we’ve got to go. Chris has told us we’ve got to go.

Paul Boag:
Do quick one.

Marcus Lillington: Simon Cox sent me a joke that I’m sure I’ve done before but it’s a good one. Two aerials met on a roof, fell in love and got married, the wedding ceremony was rubbish but the reception was fantastic.

Paul Boag:
You have told us that before. I have got nothing else to say.

Leigh Howells:
That’s a cracker joke.

Marcus Lillington: Of course it is. Bye.

Paul Boag:
Good bye.

Leigh Howells:
Bye

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