It’s an every day occurrence that I am doing something that forces out a verbal “WHY?” I’m not entirely sure what it is, if things just find me, if I’m an extremely picky person, if everything around is us so full of bugs and everyone catches them, or if the design of something I am looking at is purposeful. Because a couple of those options are subjective in nature, it’s impossible to determine if the acceptance criteria was successfully completed, or if they just didn’t prioritize a fix. But, that allows me to write about it, so the more the merrier.
I was paying bills like I do on every first of the month, and like most people, my family owns a Target card. Yay for 5% back on any purchases made at Target while using my card. I can’t afford not to buy things.
Well, I went through the bill pay option, and if you’re familiar with any credit card bill pay screen, you can select the date from a calendar drop down, that you would like to submit your payment. Being that it was October 1st, I selected October 1st, thus, approving them to take my money right away or sometime that day (or really whenever they want to process it). I entered the amount to pay, the date, and checked the box that I approve, then clicked Continue.
Fortunately my wife was in the room with me and I called her over (she typically pays the Target card bill so she knows what’s up). She verified all my information was accurate, and briefly suggested that I did everything correctly. Then she saw the problem.
Here is Target’s website (this is the login screen with dummy data that I hammered out, so as to not reveal my own credit card page).
If you’ve ever been to the Target website, they have a bright red top bar with search, clickable links, etc. Not uncommon in the web world.
When I had clicked Continue, I was in an errored state with a validation message that said I was not allowed to select today’s date as a payment date. It looked something like this.
I hadn’t seen the screen flash the orange bar over the red bar. Perhaps I blinked, or perhaps the error message was so poorly designed that it didn’t provide the user with enough immediate information in order to proceed.
Also, why can’t I select today’s date? Or, why CAN I select today’s date? Make up your mind. When I proceeded to pay my other credit card bill, I was able to select today’s date without issues, and then a little message came up saying something like, “The time to submit payments for today has passed. Your payment is scheduled for tomorrow at 7:00am.”
An exploratory tester can discover these types of scenarios and flesh them out before it’s too late. This is not saying that it has to be a QA analyst to discover the problem, but anyone with an exploratory mindset that thinks through the scenario and asks, “What if someone selects today’s date or a date in the past?” Users will always use your system as you did not intend.
This scenario could and should have been handled and I should not have been thrown an error that is overlaying an area of the screen that I have personally determined to not look at anymore because of the nature what is up there.
Am I right? Or just picky?