Inhuman time scales

Error message reading" Error 302007: The 'From' date is earlier than 560 days from today's date. Please re-enter another date'"

Source: NAB (an Australian bank)

The most annoying aspect of this message is the reference to the date entered being “earlier than 560 days from today’s date,” which leaves the user with the task of figuring out a date that is less than 560 days in the past.

How hard would it have been to avoid the error by specifying the earliest date adjacent to the field itself? Or to specify the earliest date in the error message? Or to use a human-interpretable date limit like “2 years” (or even “a year and a half”).

The other faults with the message are relatively trivial in comparison:

  • The message begins with “Error 302007,” which is irrelevant to customers.
  • “From today’s date” is less clear than “in the past” (and is arguably ambiguous).
  • The word “re-enter” is less accurate and less clear than “enter”.

 

 

 

 

 

Irrelevant relevance

Search results showing a "relevance" rating for each result
Source: Translink (translink.co.uk)

The “relevance” score is thankfully disappearing from most search results. It no longer appears on the Translink site – the screenshot is from 2008.

Occasionally in usability testing I’ve had people make postiive comments about relevance scores, but investigagion reveals that’s what’s really good is excluding irrelevant results.

For specialised applications, relevance scores may be useful, but most people will infer relevance from position – which is why organisations expend so much time and money on search engine optimisation (SEO).

The example shown is particularly egregious because there are in fact two conflicting relevance rating systems. The one most people would probably use is the order (with the first result being assumed to be the most relevant). If you look at the ratings, however, you’ll notice that the entry with the highest relevance score is the second in the list (with 18, as opposed to 22 for the first).