Barclaycard sign-up let-down

New year, old topic: form design. On the whole, the Barclaycard sign-up process is slick and well thought out. But there are a couple of aspects of its design that let it down.

1. Parse word

After a successful application, the user sees the following:

I read the word passcode and it made me think. Presumably this was something distinct from a password, otherwise they would have asked for one those. As it’s a code I assumed they wanted only wanted digits – but in which case, why not ask for a PIN? This is a financial institution after all.

When I submitted the form, this is the error I received:

My guess about the digits had been correct, but there was no way of knowing beforehand that precisely six were required. Why hide this specific information behind post-action validation? Who would know that a Barclaycard passcode should be six digits? iPhone users would be familiar with the term, but not the format: they’re four digits, extendable to include alphanumerics – a.k.a. a password!

The form’s designers could improve matters by providing up-front advice on the passcode format. But from a user’s point-of-view, the best solution would be to use a good old-fashioned alphanumeric password – familiar to users and more secure to boot.

2. Help, text!

Similar to many sign-up processes, I was prompted to choose a memorable word as a security token – plus a way to remember it if it wasn’t as memorable as I’d first thought.

Upon submission I was informed the reminder was invalid because it didn’t contain both letters and numbers:

This seemed strange: why should a number be a typical component of a reminder which could literally be anything? Obedient user that I am, I followed the prompt, but to no avail:

The issue, of course, was the apostrophe. Once removed, the erroneous error message disappeared and I could proceed.

The sole purpose of the help text was to inform about the specific requirements of a particular form field. Not only did it fail to do this, it caused confusion and delay. And, to top it all, it left me staring at bad grammar. Tsk.

P.S. My first pet wasn’t called Charlie.

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