Don’t ask for info you already have


I hate it when I have to do or say the same thing twice. With people, it’s forgiveable — we tend to misplace and forget things from time to time. But with software, I expect the data I enter to be kept on hand unless I purposely delete it. With this in mind, I just don’t understand why I have to enter the same thing over and over again when using certain products.

Unless an application is totally free of charge and requires no registration, chances are it collects some data from its users. This might take the form of people’s names, email addresses, shipping and billing info, favorite colors, etc. Regardless of the actual nature of the information, my point is that the program should never ask for it more than once. Already have someone’s address, or perhaps two or three variations? Need to ask them where they want a gift sent? Instead of making them type the address every time, just show a list of the values they’ve entered before, and let them enter a new one if desired.

The same guideline applies when editing existing information. Case in point: I recently had to update my credit card info in a web-based application. Even though my old card info was already stored, it made me enter everything from scratch. I can understand why the sensitive info like the card number and verification code might not be kept in visible form. But deleting the billing address and making me re-type it, despite the fact that my address was stored in other areas of the program? That’s just ridiculous. To add insult to injury, when it didn’t like how I split up line 1 and line 2 of the address, it made me enter everything again from the very beginning.

Don’t put your users through this kind of torture. When they give you information that might be needed later, make that data available to them in other parts of the application. Your users will save time, make fewer mistakes, and be a whole lot happier with your product.