Twitter’s Mobile Site Sign In Form

Originally posted in 2014 to my personal blog. Twitter has since made some changes to its mobile form.

Today’s usability issue comes from Twitter’s mobile website sign in page.

screenshot of Twitter's mobile website sign in form
Twitter’s mobile site sign in page

My username was pre-populated because I have used the site on my phone before. I thought my password was also pre-populated, because the placeholder text Twitter uses in the password field is a series of dots, which look just like an obfuscated password.

Sign in form with password placeholder dots
Twitter’s password placeholder text

Thinking my password was already entered into the password field, I tapped the “Sign in” button. The page refreshed and I wasn’t signed in, but I didn’t see why, so I tapped “Sign in” again, thinking the site had a glitch.

What actually happened was that I had not entered my password, and the error message on the page was located at the top in a light gray text, hardly noticeable, and resulting in frustration while I tried to figure out what was wrong.

Two easy fixes Twitter should make

  1. Remove the dots as placeholder text from the “Password” field. They are not necessary and cause confusion. Placeholder text in form fields are harmful because it makes it hard for users to know what information they have already entered.
  2. Move the error message next to the field where the error occurred and make it obvious. By placing it at the top of the form, away from the “Password” field, and making it a light gray, it isn’t obvious for users.

In working on a quick mock-up of these improvements, I realized that Twitter developers likely added the placeholder text so that users would know where to type. Without the placeholder text, it’s not obvious. That said, adding placeholder text isn’t the best solution.

screen shot of sign in form with field labels to the left and error message incontext
Mock-up of changes Twitter could make to the mobile Sign In form

Though Twitter has made some changes, such as removing the dots as placeholder text in the password field, it continues to use placeholder text and the error message still displays above the form in hard to see gray text.

log in form without field labels
Twitter’s updated log in form

Welcome to My Blog

I’m Rachele DiTullio and I decided to start this blog as a place to document and discuss some of the usability issues I encounter in the world, both online and offline. While I work primarily with digital user interfaces, it’s important to remember that much of those affordances are inspired by real world functionality.

The technical term for this is skeuomorph /ˈskjuːɵmɔrf/ which is a derivative object that retains ornamental design cues from structures that were necessary in the original.

The blog is a way for me to improve my critical thinking about interfaces and to flex my design muscle outside of everyday work, rather than simply for pointing out potential design flaws or failings.

With that, I wanted to post a link a submission I made back in 2007 to the now defunct

Broken: Self-serve ice bag freezer warning

At my local Wal-Mart, there is an interesting sign on one of the self-serve ice bag freezers.

The sign warns: “Caution!!! Ice bag will drop from machine ceiling without notice!”

picture of an ice freezer