June 30, 2016

UI/UX challenges - decipher that phone number

The user experience - feeling safe

I know. We can't think about everything, especially not when it comes to design - we simply have so much that we take for granted, so many things that are a given for us but may not be for others - read Norman's book "The Design of Everyday Things" if you don't know what I am talking about. We had an interesting discussion at our latest GDG Düsseldorf meetup, after our Accessibility talk, about that.

We also, in our discussion after the talk about how we use different concepts for different audiences - user centred design.  And we should.

Different user groups have different needs, and different expectations

However there are some things that they have  to work regardless of the end user. Some things that are so essential that if no one sees them, sees the problem with them, I just don't know what to think. There are many examples (and I like to collect them - both so i can learn and because they are great as anecdotes for talks).

Below is one example. It is from a bank, but as I don't want to out the bank I didn't use a screenshot, but created my own, and of course these numbers are made-up Hollywood numbers (so don't try and call them).

showing phone number in clear text and one which has been masked and only shows the four last digits
Can you guess the secret number?
The bank, a European bank, sends a text to your phone every time you need to confirm a payment

Great. To be safe, they have made sure they block the main part of the number, the way we do with credit card numbers, and the way we do when we want to show you that "we have your number but we want to keep it safe, so we never display it in clear text".  
It doesn't always make sense - it may be that the numbers are stored in a different system, which may/may not add an extra step for someone who wants to get to them, and it may also means that it is not sent in clear text between different systems.  It may. But it isn't necessarily so. 

However it gives you a feeling that you are safe, right? It tells you your bank or the company you are doing business with know what they are doing. It improves the user experience. It is important what the user feels.

And not displaying the number is great for me as a user if I access the system in an open environment with people hanging over my shoulder, I am all for that. 

If it wasn't for the fact that right above the blocked-out number the phone number(s) that the bank can call you on, are listed. 

And really.... It isn't that hard to figure out what digits are behind the stars, is it? You don't need to understand cryptology or use a cryptographer to figure THIS one out. 

In this case the bank would, if you ask me, have been better off not trying to hide the "secret code" number at all, because all that does is make them look like they think their customers are fools.

Although maybe we are?

YES, this is a real life example. I saw it again as late as today, June 30 2016. 

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