I'm filling out a lot of web forms lately, including my cell phone number. And I'm often confounded by the number of companies and web sites that insist on validating a phone number and how it is entered. The goal is laudable, I guess. They intend to prevent mistakes, typos and double entries. But they need to relax the alerts and rules governing what they consider to be a telephone number. For instance, let's say my phone number was (888) 555-1212. Here are all the ways I could possibly type it that should technically be correct.
- (888) 555-1212
- 888 555 1212
- (888) 555-1212 x392345
...And so on. I get that setting up the validation to recognize all of these as a valid phone number and yet at the same time to alert on something that is invalid is an exercise in expanding complexity. Setting up the form with no validation causes issues because human error gives you 888855512212. But many of these forms ONLY accept one valid format. And they give little to no coaching about which one will work before you begin typing. There are right ways to do this, but so many wrong ways that it is frustrating.
The worst one I have encountered asked for a cell phone number, but was doing some sort of check to see if the area code and prefix matched a third-party database they had of the major carriers (or something like that). Except my number was through Google Voice and didn't match this criteria.
This is not a valid cell phone number, it told me unhelpfully. How was I supposed to sign up for my daily "cat facts" text messages if you won't accept my cell phone number? Oh well.
Speaking of phones, did you know you can set up a call with me using the Google Voice widget below? Want to talk to me and tell me how wrong I am about this phone number validation thing? Give it a try!