I am the first to condone a healthy level of laziness. If there is a task I need to do over and over, I will work very hard now to automate it so I can be lazy about it later. But (some) web developers are a whole new kind of lazy, and it is not the good, productive kind of lazy. This is just sloppy, ne’er-do-well laziness you expect from teenagers hanging out at the mall, not from professional adults.
What do the following all have in common: dates, phone numbers, credit card numbers, ZIP codes, social security numbers? These are all numbers that can be formatted with spaces, dashes, slashes, dots, and parentheses.
Why is it that humans can understand a date like 4/28/15 but most websites can’t? To enter a date in almost any website, you must enter 04/28/2015 or else the website scolds you. You must give two digits for the month, two for the day, and four for the year. Usually you need to include slashes not dashes.
Phone numbers can have parentheses, dashes, dots, and spaces.
Credit card numbers are printed on the card with spaces to make them easier to read. If you include those spaces when you enter your number the website will count the spaces as digits and you will run out of space and be unable to enter the whole number or the website will just scold you once again.
ZIP codes and social security numbers can include a dash or not.
Why can’t these lazy good-for-nothing web developers spend the extra minute to accept the characters including the spaces, dots, dashes, and such, and then strip all of them out and then format the data the way they want it? It is a simple, single line of programming that would do the trick. If an entry is ambiguous, then scold the user.
Guys, really, this is not rocket science. It is easy and that extra minute of programming will save combined thousands and thousands of seconds when the website is used all day every day. Maybe humankind will spend all those accumulated saved seconds doing something productive. Like what? Well, I’m too lazy to think about the possibilities but I know they are out there.