Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Web Design & Development > Usability

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Guideline 9

Accept entries in all common formats

How do you enter a phone number? Do you use dashes, parentheses, spaces, no spaces?

How about credit cards? Do you follow the formatting on the card (with spaces) or do you write it all as one long number without spaces?

For dates, do you use dashes or slashes to separate the date? Two-character years or four-character years?

The fact is people will use different data formats at your site. That's why your forms should accept entries in all common formats. This saves customers the headache of trying to figure out which format is required.


No Hyphens or Spaces

Nordstrom's site only accepts phone numbers in this format: 2125554389. Although the site does at least offer advice on this restrictive format with its "no hyphens or spaces" message, a better solution would be to go ahead and accept all common formats. The site also should allow 212-555-4389 or 212 555 4389 or 212.555.4389.

Figure 4.3Figure 4.3

KB Toys

It's All Good

KB Toys accepts phone numbers regardless of which entry style is chosen. That means one less barrier facing shoppers.

Figure 4.4Figure 4.4



AOL's signup form automatically converts phone numbers into the proper format. I entered "2125436587" and the site's form, via JavaScript, automatically translated it to (212) 543-6587 while I was typing. By automatically reformatting the number into an acceptable entry, AOL removes any possibility for formatting errors.

Figure 4.5Figure 4.5

Zagat Survey

They've Got My Number

Credit card numbers with or without spaces are accepted at the Zagat site. There's no need to put up an unnecessary roadblock when customers are trying to give you money.

Figure 4.6Figure 4.6

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account