A Horrendous Unusable Email Address

By Mike Maddaloni on Thursday, June 10, 2010 at 04:00 AM with 3 comments

IT departments are often criticized for thinking only of technology and not about the end users in an organization. Where IT can be an easy target, in many cases the critique is correct. Here’s a perfect example in the form of following technical standards and missing the goal the technology is to be used for.

photo of Disney Store sign in ChicagoThe other day I was walking through Block 37, a retail complex in Chicago’s Loop, and saw a sign as shown in the accompanying photo. The Disney Store is going to open in one of the many available retail spaces, confirming what I had read in the local media. As is often the case with a retail “coming soon” sign, there was a call for people to work at the forthcoming store, or as Disney calls it, a casting call. Though I was not interested in working there, I read the sign nonetheless, and almost choked when I got to the end of it, reading aloud at this point the email address listed, as shown in detail below.

photo of horrendous unusable Disney email address

If you cannot read the email address in the photo, it is: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Yes, this is correct. I have seen complicated email addresses in my life, but this one by far is the worst I have ever seen!

This email address is far from usable, and is prone to all kinds of misspellings and mistyping errors. From a usability standpoint, it is anything from memorable. If someone is walking by the sign and doesn’t have a pen or any other way to write it down or enter into a mobile device, forget the possibility of remembering it. From a data-entry perspective, an email address with mixed case and 5 periods will surely be typed incorrectly when used in an email address, or even if someone is jotting it in their device for later use. It is not known if the capital letters are case-sensitive or not.

This email address is more than likely in compliant with a corporate IT standard of The Walt Disney Company. Where that’s all well and good, marketing or HR should have stepped in and asked for a much more user-friendly email address. I did a quick search of domain names which could have been coupled with this email address, and disneyjobs.com and disneystore.com are names they already own, and have Web sites at them. An email address of .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) could have worked. A new domain names like disneychicago.com could have been registered for a few dollars and have email redirected to the complicated address. Or forget email – a link to the Disney Jobs site may be the preferred method of getting prospective employees.

And all this criticism is coming from someone who has worked his entire career in computers! What is needed is IT leadership who understands people need to use the technology they build and support, and this should be a joint effort with marketing or HR to come up with a unique, short, memorable email address or Web site to entice people to email their resume for a position. Granted in this economy people who are looking for jobs will go to extraordinary means to get one. But why make them do more work than they – or anyone else – should?

For the sake of full disclosure (and to satisfy the FTC), I do own a few shares of Disney stock, which makes this even more embarrassing for me.

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