It’s rather dispiriting when you launch something, only to have people berate you for not launching sooner.
A few months ago, I was involved in a medical questionnaire launch. Before it was released, I had several people send me polite (and not-so-polite) queries as to why it was taking so long. “I could build that in five minutes!” was the common refrain.
Some people, dissatisfied with our progress, did just that. They quickly built their own questionnaires and opened them to the public. That’s the joy of the Web – you don’t need to ask anyone’s permission to publish. Some of the questionnaires were pretty good – but many were not.
Here are some of the problems I found with things which people launched in five minutes. This is non-exhaustive, and lightly edited for anonymity. But they were all genuine problems that were found. The problems broadly fell into two categories:
- Submitted medical data over http.
- Allowed anyone to look up a previous submission.
- Stored medical data on a shared webhost in the USA.
- Any user could edit another user’s medical information.
- Invasive advertising tracking on the form.
- No mechanism to prevent duplicate submissions.
- Vulnerable to SQL injection.
- Asked for information which wasn’t medically relevant.
- Didn’t ask for specific information which was medically useful.
- Questions assumed users understood medical terminology.
- Used free-text boxes which another form control would be more suitable.
- Poor accessibility meant visually impaired users couldn’t reliably answer some questions.
Just Five Minutes
It’s really easy to build a form in 5 minutes. What takes the time is doing it right way.
Most of the time, getting the wrong answer quickly is not as useful as getting the right answer slowly.