Ignore The Following Fields

Two weeks ago I stayed at the Sheraton Wall Centre for a few days. I made liberal use of their Internet access (priced at about CAN $12 a day, which is a deal at a four-star hotel). As usual, to sign up for their service, you had to complete an online form that popped up when you opened your browser. Here’s what it looked like (as always, click for a larger version):

Ignore This Field

Hilariously, the bottom half of the form is labeled “Ignore the Following Fields and Click Submit”. Then there are three fields, each labeled ‘Ignore This Field’.

Obviously this is a UI disaster. I’m sure there’s some peculiar explanation why the developer could edit field labels but not actually the form itself, but that’s not really satisfactory, is it?</p

There are actually two separate design disasters here. The less obvious one is the use of the software design term ‘field’. I don’t think the average hotel internet user understands that those blank areas are called ‘fields’. Most people just call them ‘boxes’.


  1. I also snagged a screenshot of this hilarity. Particularly funny since otherwise the hotel has such attention to detail – clearly a case of the outsourcing firm not matching the user experience of an otherwise outstanding location.

    As an example of the user experience of the hotel: they have a nifty weather report hooked in to the mirrors (so words like sunny or, more often, cloudy light up to let you know what the weather is) – nice ambient information. (I believe I was in the North Tower where I saw this.)

    @Karen – if I recall correctly, the fields to be ignored are on the second page of the sign-up form and just carry over values from the previous page – usually one would use hidden fields, not in this case.

    Ironic that the fields that were supposed to be ignored actually cause us to stop and talk about them.

  2. Jeffrey: You’re dead right on the user experience–the hotel was otherwise really good. I dug that weather info display. I particularly liked that it could show multiple states (like both ‘cloudy’ and ‘windy).

  3. David: Oddly but predictably, there’s an inverse relationship between the poshness of a hotel and the amount they charge for internet access.

  4. I’ve seen this sort of thing before. It has to do with nomenclature and configuration. The hotel probably doesn’t have any devs on staff but they can still alter the labels in their app through some sort of config mechanism that the app came with.

  5. I guess they don’t have any of their $12/day budget to spend on improving the form.

    By the way, the AirPort Express or similar portable Wi-Fi base stations are great ways to share pricey connections like this among several friends staying in adjacent rooms.

    Alas, when my wife was in Las Vegas, the hotel only had for-pay Wi-Fi (i.e. no plug-in Internet). You can still share that if you have a Mac by plugging in other computers with an Ethernet cable, but that’s not so much fun.

  6. I agree with David – and that’s interesting about the inverse relationship…

    Both my recent hotel stays were middle-of-the-road, with free internet.

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