In a user-interface design meeting over a regulatory compliance implementation:
User: “We’ll need to input a city.”
Dev: “Should we validate that city against the state, zip code, and country?”
User: “You are going to make me enter all that data? Ugh…then make it a drop-down. I select the city and the state, zip code auto-fill. I don’t want to make a mistake typing any of that data in.”
Me: “I don’t think a drop-down of every city in the US is feasible.”
Manage: “Why? There cannot be that many. Drop-down is fine. What about the button? We have a few icons to choose from…”
Me: “Uh..yea…there are thousands of cities in the US. Way too much data to for anyone to realistically scroll through”
Dev: “They won’t have to scroll, I’ll filter the list when they start typing.”
Me: “That’s not really the issue and if they are typing the city anyway, just let them type it in.”
User: “What if I mistype Ch1cago? We could inadvertently be out of compliance. The system should never open the company up for federal lawsuits”
Me: “If we’re hiring individuals responsible for legal compliance who can’t spell Chicago, we should be sued by the federal government. We should validate the data the best we can, but it is ultimately your department’s responsibility for data accuracy.”
Manager: “Now now…it’s all our responsibility. What is wrong with a few thousand item drop-down?”
Me: “Um, memory, network bandwidth, database storage, who maintains this list of cities? A lot of time and resources could be saved by simply paying attention.”
Manager: “Memory? Well, memory is cheap. If the workstation needs more memory, we’ll add more”
Dev: “Creating a drop-down is easy and selecting thousands of rows from the database should be fast enough. If the selection is slow, I’ll put it in a thread.”
DBA: “Table won’t be that big and won’t take up much disk space. We’ll need to setup stored procedures, and data import jobs from somewhere to maintain the data. New cities, name changes, ect. ”
Manager: “And if the network starts becoming too slow, we’ll have the Networking dept. open up the valves.”
Me: “Am I the only one seeing all the moving parts we’re introducing just to keep someone from misspelling ‘Chicago’? I’ll admit I’m wrong or maybe I’m not looking at the problem correctly. The point of redesigning the compliance system is to make it simpler, not more complex.”
Manager: “I’m missing the point to why we’re still talking about this. Decision has been made. Drop-down of all cities in the US. Moving on to the button’s icon ..”
Me: “Where is the list of cities going to come from?”
<few seconds of silence>
Dev: “Post office I guess.”
Me: “You guess?…OK…Who is going to manage this list of cities? The manager responsible for regulations?”
User: “Thousands of cities? Oh no …no one is our area has time for that. The system should do it”
Me: “OK, the system. That falls on the DBA. Are you going to be responsible for keeping the data accurate? What is going to audit the cities to make sure the names are properly named and associated with the correct state?”
DBA: “Uh..I don’t know…um…I can set up a job to run every night”
Me: “A job to do what? Validate the data against what?”
Manager: “Do you have a point? No one said it would be easy and all of those details can be answered later.”
Me: “Almost done, and this should be easy. How many cities do we currently have to maintain compliance?”
User: “Maybe 4 or 5. Not many. Regulations are mostly on a state level.”
Me: “When was the last time we created a new city compliance?”
User: “Maybe, 8 years ago. It was before I started.”
Me: “So we’re creating all this complexity for data that, realistically, probably won’t ever change?”
User: “Oh crap, you’re right. What the hell was I thinking…Scratch the drop-down idea. I doubt we’re have a new city regulation anytime soon and how hard is it to type in a city?”
Manager: “OK, are we done wasting everyone’s time on this? No drop-down of cities...next …Let’s get back to the button’s icon …”

Simplicity 1, complexity 0.

  • 7
    Stubbornness almost scored on this one.
  • 11
    oh god i love this. give me more. Now!
  • 6
    Nice one! What a patronising cunt the Manager is, trying his best to make you into a jobsworth.
  • 0
    I loved reading that.
  • 0
    I thoroughly enjoyed this.
  • 3
    I'm so glad I made it to the end
  • 5
    this almost gave me an anxiety attack.
  • 2
    @chewbacca you and me both! 😂
  • 0
    really enjoyed reading it
  • 2
    Why the hell do they even collect a city and state? The ZIP code gives you both!
  • 1
    you, Sir, need to hire an assassin.
  • 0
    Haha nice, SCORE!
  • 0
    @mgard Actually a single zip code can correspond to multiple cities, and vise versa. It's basically a hot mess
  • 0
    @isaac is that why extended zip was introduced? I've never seen anyone actually provide an extended zip though
  • 2
    Well fuck me. I think +1ing this post gave me bad juju.

    Last night, I was going over details for an address form for a side project (mobile app). We already have a list of known countries that will populate a table view.

    Designer friend says "so the state field needs to be a drop down too." Me: "why...?"
    Him: "so they don't misspell their state"
    Me: (channeling this post) "we are literally already relying on them correctly typing in their street address. They can type in their own state. Besides, do you have ANY idea how many states/provinces there are in the world?? Who is going to maintain that list when it changes? You?"
    Him: "ok, we can keep it a text field"
  • 1
    @mgard No, extended zips just break down zip codes more, but it's more or less the code of the mail route/post office. Some zip codes span multiple states and some don't even have geographical area
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