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iTunes & Pepsi: Enter your 40-digit Pepsi code

02 Feb 2004 by Jason Fried

apple and pepsi

Apple and Pepsi’s 100 million song giveaway page on the iTunes Music Store asks you to enter your 10-digit Pepsi code exactly as it appears on the inside of the bottle cap, but presents you with a looooong 40-character field to do so. Nitpicking? Yes. But why give 40 when you’re only asking for 10? Why open it up for mistakes? If you just provide 10 slots, it’s much easier for people to tell if they’ve entered the code correctly (they’ll see their data entry “fit” or be too short or too long). File this little lesson under Defensive Design.

10 comments so far (Post a Comment)

02 Feb 2004 | nick said...

Oh man, do I ever hate that. I set up an account to pay my credit card bill online, used it once and forgot about it for a while. I used the username I always use for such things, which is 11 characters long. They only wanted 8. Fine.

Then I went back a few months later, entered my username, all 11 characters of it, over and over, which the form happily let me do, with no results. Only when I went to start over with a new account did I see and remember that the username was only allowed to be 8 characters long. A maxlength="8" could have saved me half an hour and a lot of animosity towards whoever is in charge of Commerce Bank's web development, which really just sucks all over the place.

So, I don't think that's nitpicking. If you don't set boundaries, people will go all over the place and do all kinds of stupid crap.

02 Feb 2004 | Dan said...

TuneRecycler does it too, but they come closer with twelve slots (and the site in generally nice and clean), but mostly I just enjoy this quote from that site...

'when Green Day, a punk band, covers a song about "fighting the law" for a soda commercial that cashes in on kids getting screwed by record companies, that is some serious sell-out bullshit.'


02 Feb 2004 | jupiter said...

Who desigend the cover for "Defensive Design"? I cannot imagine that you guys have anything to do with it ... please!

02 Feb 2004 | JF said...

Who desigend the cover for "Defensive Design"? I cannot imagine that you guys have anything to do with it ... please!

That's not the final cover.

02 Feb 2004 | Jonny Roader said...

A maxlength of forty for a ten digit field is just stupid, but a bit of leeway can be useful.

If you need to add a digit into the centre of an already entered ten digit code, for example, it is more natural for some people to enter the digit first and then delete the extra than the other way round. A maxlength of ten on a field length of ten would disallow such behaviour.

I take it you've user-tested your assumption thoroughly, JF? ;)

02 Feb 2004 | Justin said...

Defensive Design has 256 pages... funny how that number shows up in everything to do with computers - even books ;)

02 Feb 2004 | Mike said...

Make sure to use Interstate as the book cover font!

It just wouldn't be 37signals without it :)

03 Feb 2004 | Jeff said...

The point I think of extra size is that default formatting on textfields is often visually too narrow. That is, size of 10 might actually show only 9.5 characters. Better I think to see that there's a bit of blank space on the right of your entry, say size of 12, so you can verify what you just typed without arrow key scrolling.

03 Feb 2004 | Joe Cynic said...

Form field sizes don't change when the user changes his text font size in the browser. If you put a 10 digit width in there and somebody with sight-related disabilities had increased the font size to see clearly, the digits wouldn't fit.

12 Feb 2004 | Anne said...

couldn't manage it! guess I need specs!

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