The Sun's MY Sun registration systems and odd date range behaviour

 by Martin Belam, 11 April 2007

When I was looking at The Sun's online registration functionality to research my Easter Bunnies competition post, I noticed something odd about the date range they offered, which is a mistake commonly made across the web.

In the wireframes I've made for Sony NetServices, I've always specified the date-range to be displayed, and the order in which it should be displayed. Not everybody seems to think this through though.

The Sun's registration process asks for a birthdate, and gets the user to choose the year of their birth from a drop-down menu. The list of options starts with 1901. I'm not sure how many 106 year olds they are expecting to sign up to their service, but I bet it can't be many.


The natural instinct for the user is then to scroll down the list - but scrolling all the way down takes you to the year 2007.


Again, I'm left wondering how many 3 month olds want to join The Sun's MY Sun online community.

It is even more irritating though, since the service is for the over-18s only.


Entering a birthdate between the years of 2007 and 1990 returns a warning about it - so why list the extra invalid 17 years at all?


Lazy programming...

I've always considered it easier (for the user) to just have a 4 character text box and let them type it in... Quicker to use the keyboard than mouse and scrollbars...

I always wonder why this sort of thing has to be a drop-down at all. Wouldn't it be more user-friendly to accept the date in a text box?

You can always validate the input before accepting it if you're bothered about what your users might type in, and
I'm sure most people find it much easier to type in their year of birth rather than scrolling through a list of 100 odd options to find the right one.

Actually, this reminds me of the all time classic in the category of drop-downs-that-should-have-been-text-fields, the Title option on BA's web registration page:

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