Useless feature I've built?

Too many to mention. Here's #25.

Modified an existing "Are you sure..?" dialog pop-up (Yes/No buttons) to Yes/No/Cancel. Why? Managers claimed users were "accidentally" clicking 'Yes' when they should have clicked 'No' and causing all kinds of chaos, costing the company money, etc. Managers believed giving the user two chances instead of one would make it easier to avoid the problems they caused.

The meeting:
Me: "Users can click 'No', hit the 'Esc' key, or click the close 'X' button on the window, how will an extra button make it more foolproof?"
Mgr1: "It just will. Andy accidentally deleted inventory and when I asked him if an extra button would have saved them a days worth of re-counts, he said yes."
Mgr2: "Barb accidentally credited a customer $1,500. She promised me she clicked 'No', but the system credited the account anyway. An extra button would have saved us thousands of dollars!"
Me: "Um...these sound like training issues, not an extra button issue."
MyMgr: "PaperTrail, how hard is it to add an extra button?"
Dev1: "Oh yea, adding buttons is easy."
Dev2: "I can do it 5 minutes"
Dev3: "We'll save the company thousands and thousands of dollars!"
<lots of head-knodding and smiles>
MyMgr: "That settles it. PaperTrail, add the extra button!"

Users still screwed things up, but at least they couldn't blame it on not having an extra button.

  • 7
    Generic dialogs provoke generic user behavior. Users unconciously clicked yes, because that is what they have to do all the time to do their job.

    You can make them read by not providing a button labeled "yes".
  • 2
    Just make Yes very small font, and very close in color to the background.
    Also - think "french car manufacturer" + random location when generating the dialog buttons.
  • 7
    How about 10 No buttons and one of them is randomly picked to be Yes. That would make it even more secure and save even more money.
  • 4
    Or… pressing the Yes button could open a second dialog asking if the user is really, really, super sure.
  • 3
    How about a small check box stating "I've acknowledge the above info" that should be checked before selecting either the Yes or No options?
  • 1
    Ouch.. we have ran into similar issues and depending on the situation we force the users to provide a required reason in the form of a drop down and/or input fields or build an an approval process and document the information to the history of the record.

    A lot of times users go into auto pilot mode and you kind of have to force them to stop and think.
  • 1
    @xJubeix then it goes like this
    Click "yes"
    Comment box: aadfasdfassf
  • 2
    No, in some cases we provide them with modal dialog boxes with the reason they are receiving message and a required field the user needs to fill out or the user can cancel out of the dialog box and make a correction or reverify their input.

    If money is involved, users are set to a certain limit and if they try to exceed the limit, the request will be sent to another individual that will have to approve the limit and to make sure fraud is not involved.
  • 0
    @xJubeix that is very smart. Double sign off.
  • 1
    Wouldn't it make more sense to just rename buttons to

    Continue / Cancel
  • 2
    With destructive functions you could go the amazon and google way and require the use to write the name of the thing they are deleting before the action happens.

    Stuff like "type 'delete inventory' into the box below"

    We need to start retraining people to be less lazy and not do everything on autopilot but actually pay attention to their actions
  • 3
    The best solution would obviously be to make the action undoable. But depending on the action and compliance requirements, it may be hard or impossible to do so...
  • 1
    Why does that dialog come up in the first place? User should need to actively look for the "bankrupt our company" button, it shouldn't be forced to their face.

    Or did they just make a mistake before the popup? Maybe reducing those mistakes is where your effort should be targeted.
  • 0
    @Oktokolo Agreed!
  • 6
    I'm a bit disappointed that no one sees the obvious solution, which is to having to solve a captcha to click yes.

    User: *klick yes*
    "Please select all busses"
    User: *selects busses*
    "Please select all chimneys
    User: *selects chimneys*
    "Something went wrong. Try again."
    User: *gives up and clicks no*
  • 1
    @saucyatom I am laughing so hard that I fell out of my seat!
  • 2
    @electrineer > "Why does that dialog come up in the first place? Or did they just make a mistake before the popup?"

    Yes, most of the time the mistakes occur before the popup.

    In the above example, the credit was for $15, not $1,500. Based on roles, some users can go beyond the maximum amounts and prompted with a "The amount you entered, $1,500.00, is above the $xx.xx threshold. Are you sure ...etc". The user (a level 3 customer service rep) selected OK, and continued with the credit. Item $15, credit $1,500, you really didn't notice? That's fine, mistakes happen, but it was the user's attitude of "It's not my fault, the computer let me" that turned the mole hill into a mountain. Upper managers got involved, VPs, etc all trying to blame "the system" for the user's mistake and how the extra button would have saved the company $$.
  • 2
    @PaperTrail Obvious solution: Revoke that user's privilege.
  • 2
    @Oktokolo > "Obvious solution: Revoke that user's privilege"

    It's amazing how political that becomes.

    After one incident where a user had a habit of sending free products to customers (TL;DR, reps can zero out a price for products) and using the excuse "the computer let me", I suggested they fire her. Wasn't the first incident of price adjustment abuse and she already had other disciplinary issues going on. It would be cheaper to fire her than for me to make any code adjustments.

    The shock on her manager's face was as if I suggested stomping on kitten heads.

    TL;DR, I ended up changing code for political reasons.
  • 1
    @PaperTrail It isn't political. If a user can't use a feature properly and also don't actually need that feature, just disabling the feature for that user is the easiest and safest option.

    Some people just don't go well with "computers". They actually need dumbed down interfaces and step-by-step instructions they can replicate like a bot. You will not be able to change them and people are employed at companies for all sorts of reasons. Maybe she is really good with customers. Or maybe she actually is only still employed because she has three kids and is in the company since twenty years. Could also just be that she really cheers up and motivates the other employees in her department. Some companies can afford to employ a mascot...
  • 0
    @Oktokolo > "It isn't political."

    Your mileage may vary, but here, it's 100% political. Each area (Financial Services, Customer Support, etc) are always using IS as their knife of choice to stab other departments to achieve dominance.

    Its way better now, but I'm pretty sure an IS department in a non-tech company (non-tech = a technology stack is not their prime business model) deals with the same battles.
  • 0
    @PaperTrail What does "IS" stand for in this context?
  • 0
    @Oktokolo . "What does "IS" stand for"

    Information Systems
  • 0
    @PaperTrail That would be a bad choice for a weapon as it has the potential to cripple the entire company. Also, the IT department would always win - and normally, it doesn't.
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