Don’t Demand a Username

Why do websites ask for a username when you set up an account? And why don’t website forms make it obvious what’s wrong?

I was prompted to write this post after becoming quite cross, trying to register a new account with a well-known shower manufacturer. I need a spare part to stop my shower dripping.

They wanted me to enter a username, so I entered one and completed all the other form fields with an *. Then I got this error message.

Example form requiring a usernameI read down as far as “Problems were found…” and didn’t spot the little message below. “My problem,” you might say. But why not show the problem in red? I wouldn’t have missed it then!

As it was, I completed the form several times, adding one more field at a time trying to find which * (obligatory field indicator) was missing. And typing the password – twice – each time.

Then I thought, I’m using the Chrome browser, with third-party cookies turned off. Switched to IE, where I keep cookies turned on, and tried again. Same result. Read here about why cookies are important.

Finally I spotted the real error and changed the username.

Guess what! My second username was rejected, and my third. Then I chose a username “bbbbbbbbbbbb” and completed the purchase.

But WHY ASK FOR A USERNAME AT ALL?

Everyone else uses your email address. Just think of the time you’d have saved me – and probably loads of other people, too. ‘Nuff said!

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