Forms: Validating the basics - can and should it be done?
21 Sep 2009 - 11:46am
4 years ago
On 21 Sep 2009, at 09:01, jennifer wrote:
> I've been asked several times by the owners of our lead database, > which is generated by any/all forms we have on our site, to increase > validation of the fields of any/all forms to ensure - or "force" to > use their term - the user to input valid data. > (In this way, they get a "clean" db, is really the gist.) > > Our fields include: > First name > Last name > Title > Company name > Email > Phone > Street address > City / State / Zip > > (*Note, these are not the precise labels) > > Anyway, I figure we can and should, to a degree validate phone number
I'd personally recommend leaving phone numbers alone :-) Too many folk
have different ways of writing phone numbers, or need to add something
like "and then push #3 and ask for Tracy" to the end.
> and email fields without too much issue.
You can check an e-mail has the correct structure - but you can't
check that the e-mail is "correct" (without actually sending the e-
mail and having the user confirm.)
> What is desired, however, is to 'validate' that all those other > fields - e.g., name - get input with reliable information.
Define "reliable"? Is the issue it not being filled in at all? Being
filled in with bogus info? Something else?
> I don't think this can be done, to be honest, and it just feels > plain wrong. I understand the internal desire for it, but I've > commented that such validation brings up more questions about error > messaging/alerts than is worth it in the end.
Whether it's possible or not will depend to some extent on the
motivation of the user. I'm highly motivated to put my phone number on
some forms (e.g. when expensive hardware is being delivered and they
need to check somebody is in). In others I will go out of my way to
give a fake number (e.g. when I'm forced to register one when
downloading a demo and want to avoid the annoying sales calls.) The
data bods should find the idea of incorrect data more frightening than
absent information - so that's a useful axe to wield.
> Plus, they're trying to get more people to fill out these forms, and > that sort of validation seems counter-intuitive.
Again - depends on the motivation. I'd be happy to be reminded that
I've forgotten my postcode on a form for where my parcel should be
delivered. I'd find it annoying when the address is irrelevant to the
action I'm trying to take.
> Thoughts? Resources? (I've looked, not found any yet)...
The usual pointer to Luke Wroblewski's "Web Form Design" book :-)