The 2 logins saga



  •  Just thought i'd share this little gem with you guys.  We have a particularly clueless project manager at the moment and i swear she's getting dumber by the week.  A bit of background, the system we created for them has an application which employees use and one that clients use.  These are part of the same system and the convention goes that clients log in with their email and nominated password.  Employees log into the employee application with the first part of the email address(before the @) and their nominated password. 

    Now here's where it gets tricky, sometimes employees need access to the client site, unfortunately because of the way permissions work in the system the easiest thing to do is give them a new login for the client site which is their full email address and usual password, not the optimum solution but not too bad.  We even put the word "email address" in the login box for the systems that require an email address for login.  and wow, the number of support calls we get from the PM about this is crazy, at least 4 a week for the last month.  None of the other employees seem to find it confusing but the PM just doesn't get it.  She keeps ringing up saying "i logged in and i can't see x and y" we again ask if she logged in with her email or her employee username, she then claims it's too confusing, we explain it says email next to the login box so you use you email address, she still doesn't get it.

    Seriously, we get 4 calls a week from her about this, it's amazing, it makes no difference how clearly you explain it she just doesn't remember, even to the point where i've said you have 2 logins if you log in and can't see the services you want you are logged in with the wrong one you should try your other one.  Still rings us.

    The thing that makes it even more amazing is that she rang up on tuesday and again we explained it to her and she claimed this was the first time she'd ever heard of the second login and she'd only ever had one.  we were all just astounded as we knew for a fact she'd logged into both systems on friday(log files).  well the saga continues, she's rung us again since then with the same problem.



  • Sorry, but I nominate the confusing design as a WTF and the PM is just a hapless victim. Sometimes the users are clueless only because we (the developers) were too clever by half.



  •  @dgvid said:

    Sorry, but I nominate the confusing design as a WTF and the PM is just a hapless victim. Sometimes the users are clueless only because we (the developers) were too clever by half.

     

     yeah, it's not the best setup i agree, unfortunately it's just the nature of how permissions work in the system, we're currently looking at a setup whcih will solve the issue but it hasn't really been a top priority because it's only the 13 or so administrative users this applies to so we figured just giving the 2 logins would be an ok solution, at least in the interim.  It's more that a supposed I.T. project manager struggles with this concept when none of the other admin users have had any problems with it.



  • I have to agree, the real WTF IS the dual login system. A completely different username for an employee logging in as a client would probably avoid the majority of the confusion.



  • I'm with the OP on this one. The dual system maybe be somewhat confusing, but not that confusing.

    Having two usernames will probably only confuse her more, I think.

    How different are the two apps? Do they look the same? Can't you use different colours? 



  • Yeah, I'm with the OP as well. Sure the system sounds like a small WTF, but not that bad. I've had pretty clueless regular users understand more complicated things than this.

    If you get confused by stuff like this after having it explained once or twice you shouldn't be an IT project manager. And if you can't learn simple things like this after the third try, I seriously doubt you should be a project manager at all.

    And no, I don't think you should be managing projects in something that you have no background or knowledge in. That goes for IT and pretty much everything else.



  • @dgvid said:

    Sorry, but I nominate the confusing design as a WTF and the PM is just a hapless victim. Sometimes the users are clueless only because we (the developers) were too clever by half.
     

    Come on.  She's had this explained to her close to TWENTY TIMES according to the OP.  How retarded does she have to be to still don't remember it and even claim that she's NEVER HEARD OF IT BEFORE?  Is Alzheimer's enough or is something more severe needed?  It's a wonder she remembers how to get to work each morning.

    Sure, the system is far from optimal.  I'd have gone with some sort of parameter to switch between the systems and a toggle link on the site.  Or made the employees see everything at once if possible.  But still, I expect that every functional member of the society is able to remember things that he/she needs on a daily basis after being explained once or twice.  Even more so for persons in managerial positions.



  • Sure, it may seem perfectly logical to YOU that entering the full email address gives you one set of permissions and entering part of it gives you another, but as a programmer you're able to process this information and hold it longer than a goldfish might be able to.

    But some very popular applications (Gmail, for one) allow you to log in with or without the full email address. Maybe she's used to this and thinks that all systems work that way.

    One of the lessons I've learned about non-technical members of my company is that it never occurs to them that we have the power to make decisions on this kind of thing. They have no idea whatsoever of what our jobs entail. They give us money and we give them back systems that somehow work.

    One of my managers once said to me, "Wow, I never realised there were different ways to do that. I thought there was only one way to do things and all programmers did the same thing!"

    Now, he's a little more clued-up than most managers. You obviously aren't so lucky.



  • Solution: COMPLETELY change the styles of one of the login pages. Users will not think that both are identical.

    Yes that PM is pretty damn dumb (watch southpark homeless episode... homeless people immediately forget that you gave them change)



  • @astonerbum said:

    Solution: COMPLETELY change the styles of one of the login pages. Users will not think that both are identical.
    Make that the style of the whole systems (as I failed to imply in my previous post).

    Kind of like white/$ prompt for normal users and red/# prompt for root.



  • I agree on completely changing the style of the login page.

    Also, if it's not unreasonable, have someone physically go to her location and help her log in to both systems, and document this.



  •  @dgvid said:

    Sorry, but I nominate the confusing design as a WTF and the PM is just a hapless victim. Sometimes the users are clueless only because we (the developers) were too clever by half.

     

    The design is complicated enough that skimming through the description I don't understand what it is.

    The project manager might be busy, too, and doesn't feel like reading 4 paragraphs to understand why she needs to different logins.



  • How about some javascript that checks whether there's a @ in the login. If it's there on the page that doesn't require it, strip it off before submitting. If it's not there on the page that doesn't, pop up a message telling them to use their full email address.



  • @Zecc said:

    @astonerbum said:

    Solution: COMPLETELY change the styles of one of the login pages. Users will not think that both are identical.
    Make that the style of the whole systems (as I failed to imply in my previous post).

    Kind of like white/$ prompt for normal users and red/# prompt for root.

    Don't restyle the system if they are both different functionality, make one login blue the other one dark red. Its so obvious she will call once or twice and everything will be back to normal. Theoretically just some CSS property changes for background/foreground colors.



  • @tdb said:

    Come on.  She's had this explained to her close to TWENTY TIMES according to the OP.  How retarded does she have to be to still don't remember it and even claim that she's NEVER HEARD OF IT BEFORE?  Is Alzheimer's enough or is something more severe needed?  It's a wonder she remembers how to get to work each morning.

    It's a defense mechanism. Some people are unable to admit that they are wrong or forgetful, and therefore, since she can't possibly be wrong or have forgotten, she's therefore never heard of the system before.



  • @SuperousOxide said:

    How about some javascript that checks whether there's a @ in the login. If it's there on the page that doesn't require it, strip it off before submitting. If it's not there on the page that doesn't, pop up a message telling them to use their full email address.
    You're missing the point. The problem, the way I see it, is mostly her complaining about missing features, because she doesn't realize that she logs into the wrong application.



  • @element[0] said:

    Seriously, we get 4 calls a week from her about this, it's amazing, it makes no difference how clearly you explain it she just doesn't remember, even to the point where i've said you have 2 logins if you log in and can't see the services you want you are logged in with the wrong one you should try your other one.  Still rings us.
     

    Perhaps she's in love with you and just needs an excuse to hear your voice  



  • The problem as I see it is that the design of the application sucks. During the design process did anybody consider whether company users would want to log in to the client interface?

    I've worked with enough myopically-designed applications (many of them my own) to know that when I hear (or find myself using) a feeble excuse like, "... because of the way permissions work in our system...", any confusion arising is NOT the user's fault.

    It's a circular, meaningless justification. "This application is the way it is because of the way the application is". Saying that doesn't help your users and it won't help you design better applications.



  • @Nelle said:

    @element[0] said:

    Seriously, we get 4 calls a week from her about this, it's amazing, it makes no difference how clearly you explain it she just doesn't remember, even to the point where i've said you have 2 logins if you log in and can't see the services you want you are logged in with the wrong one you should try your other one.  Still rings us.
     

    Perhaps she's in love with you and just needs an excuse to hear your voice  

     

    Yes. I also found out that the best way to start a relationship with someone is to annoy the heck out of her.



  •  Whats with people blaming the op?

     The system isn't that complicated and since it is for internal use then the people using it should learn how - it's their job!

    Wasting hours trying to fix the usability of an internal system because one IT manager is too stupid to grasp it is an egregious waste of resources, as any time the developers spend on this is time that isn't spent on what they are meant to be doing.

    Mind you if the program knows if it is a client/admin login surely it's possible to strip everything after the @, and if not provide a selection box for 'client'/'admin', if only to keep her happy.

    Personally I've created quite a lot of internal use apps and generally I design them to work, not to have hand holding niceties, as I have better things to do.



  • @Meep3d said:

    Wasting hours trying to fix the usability of an internal system because one IT manager is too stupid to grasp it is an egregious waste of resources, as any time the developers spend on this is time that isn't spent on what they are meant to be doing.

    @Meep3d said:

    Personally I've created quite a lot of internal
    use apps and generally I design them to work, not to have hand holding
    niceties, as I have better things to do.

    What are these better things that you supposedly have to do?  Being easy-to-use and having "hand-holding niceties" are essential compontents of good software.  Your attitude seems a bit callous, as if any difficulties the user experiences are a waste of your precious time.  However, you are being paid for your time to make other people's jobs easier and more productive.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    What are these better things that you supposedly have to do?  Being easy-to-use and having "hand-holding niceties" are essential compontents of good software.  Your attitude seems a bit callous, as if any difficulties the user experiences are a waste of your precious time.  However, you are being paid for your time to make other people's jobs easier and more productive.

     

    The operative term that you seemed to miss is 'Internal Use'.  If you are faced with the choice of either A: Spending 3 hours of developer time on fixing something that only a monkey would be confused by or, B: Spending 3 minutes training someone who should know better how to use it the latter is OBVIOUSLY the better choice.

    So you're saying that instead of improving the usability of the clients sites, who are paying the bills, you should instead prioritise catering for the lowest common denominator staff requirements so that they don't have to spend the extra 3 minutes learning how to use something???



  • @Meep3d said:

    @morbiuswilters said:

    What are these better things that you supposedly have to do?  Being easy-to-use and having "hand-holding niceties" are essential compontents of good software.  Your attitude seems a bit callous, as if any difficulties the user experiences are a waste of your precious time.  However, you are being paid for your time to make other people's jobs easier and more productive.

     

    The operative term that you seemed to miss is 'Internal Use'.  If you are faced with the choice of either A: Spending 3 hours of developer time on fixing something that only a monkey would be confused by or, B: Spending 3 minutes training someone who should know better how to use it the latter is OBVIOUSLY the better choice.

    So you're saying that instead of improving the usability of the clients sites, who are paying the bills, you should instead prioritise catering for the lowest common denominator staff requirements so that they don't have to spend the extra 3 minutes learning how to use something???

    Internal use isn't an excuse to make a crappy interface.  There's also a pretty big gap from "only a monkey would be confused" to "doing anything other than making the application work is a waste of my time".  Obviously there are cases where training is the right answer, but your attitude towards users seems arrogant and contemptuous.  Just observing based on what you've said and you certainly seem defensive over the whole thing.



  • @astonerbum said:

    @Zecc said:

    @astonerbum said:

    Solution: COMPLETELY change the styles of one of the login pages. Users will not think that both are identical.
    Make that the style of the whole systems (as I failed to imply in my previous post).

    Kind of like white/$ prompt for normal users and red/# prompt for root.

    Don't restyle the system if they are both different functionality, make one login blue the other one dark red. Its so obvious she will call once or twice and everything will be back to normal. Theoretically just some CSS property changes for background/foreground colors.

    The login boxes clearly state either "email address" or "<application> login", where <application> is a desktop application they use daily. I'm not sure how it could be any clearer. But like the OP says, even if you can't read, if you can't see all the features, surely before calling in a kerfuffle, you'd try the other login? Especially if you were an IT PM?



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    @Meep3d said:

    Wasting hours trying to fix the usability of an internal system because one IT manager is too stupid to grasp it is an egregious waste of resources, as any time the developers spend on this is time that isn't spent on what they are meant to be doing.

    @Meep3d said:

    Personally I've created quite a lot of internal
    use apps and generally I design them to work, not to have hand holding
    niceties, as I have better things to do.

    What are these better things that you supposedly have to do?  Being easy-to-use and having "hand-holding niceties" are essential compontents of good software.  Your attitude seems a bit callous, as if any difficulties the user experiences are a waste of your precious time.  However, you are being paid for your time to make other people's jobs easier and more productive.

     

    I strongly agree.  User experience is often what makes or breaks an application whether its being used internally or externally.  If someone can't figure out how to use your application, they end up wasting your time with 20 support calls.

    Its very important to know your audience.  I work in a studio full of 3D animators who, dispite working on powerful workstations running expensive, complex 3d software, are really just artists trying to make things look good.  They don't have time to be fiddling with clunky UIs, wondering why things work one way and not another.   I learned very early on that to make a tool that they will actually use, you have to spend that extra hour or day making the application easy to use, otherwise nobody will use it.  Not to mention the fact that they won't need to bug me for instructions on how to use it.

    I basically subject all tools to a "could my dad figure this out?" thought process.  Could my dad, someone who phones me when "the email isn't working", be able to use tools to, say, transfer animation from one character to another.  So far, the answer has always been yes, and the only time anyone comes to my desk regarding my tools is when there's a legitimate bug in them.



  • I didn't say don't care about usability, simply that there is a better use of developer time than catering for the lowest common denominator.  You can literally spend months trying to sand off every rough edge, and for what?  To save some a few people 3 minutes of learning how to use something?

    Obviously if something is causing problems with a large proportion of users then it should be fixed, but if it is only one user who is having problems with something as simple as multiple logins then it is up to that user to learn how rather thanwasting large amounts of developer time just so they don't have to learn anything.

    @Soviut said:

    I basically subject all tools to a "could my dad figure this out?" thought process.  Could my dad, someone who phones me when "the email isn't working", be able to use tools to, say, transfer animation from one character to another.  So far, the answer has always been yes, and the only time anyone comes to my desk regarding my tools is when there's a legitimate bug in them.

    Could your dad figure out (after having it explained multiple times) that you use one login for client, and another for admin?

    For average end users you're expected to do all sorts of crap, such as the 'please type your email address in twice', as many fail to enter it right the first time.  I can kind of see the logic to this, but if you have to do this level of hand holding for internal users then you really need better employees, not better programmers.



  • It's all a question of how low you want to set the bar. For external applications or internal applications with a huge user base, then you probably want to set the bar as low as possible.

    But for an internal application with only a few tens of users, expecting someone to remember to put in their e-mail instead of their regular login when the application says "e-mail" is very reasonable.

    I would expect my parents to figure that out, after being told no more than once - and I would surely do my best to get any IT project manager fired who couldn't figure it out after the third time.



  • We have the same kind of applications. But we solved it by using different URL's:

    The client's website is located on https://application.company.com/ (goes through the external reverse proxy into the DMZ)

    The internal website is located on https://application.company.prod/ (goes through the internal reverse proxy into the DMZ)

    No confusion on how to log on. Just create an external and an internal bookmark in the browser.



  • Wait a minute... is anyone assuming the client site and the employee site in the original post have the same URL?



  • Are you sure she's not being difficult because the double username system annoys the hell out of her, and she just passive aggressively wants you to fix it?

    It sounds like you have two login boxes on the same page:  why not at least have nice big text under each saying "for access to...[brief list of featured]" and as mentioned before, even javascript can determine if the username has an @, and tell her to use the full email address?

    The way I see it, it's always worth putting in time to save time:  if I put in 10 hours to make an application 1/10 more productive after 100 hours of use (total, across all users) its a net gain in productivity, which is why I love this kind of work.

    Lastly, even though it sounds like she's either a little dense when it comes to web apps, or at least passive aggressive, she sadly is in your target audience.  If your app can't satisfy your target audience for an application, then you update the application, not pine for a better audience.


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