Please don’t add debug messages to your customer-facing application

Debugging messages are for developers/engineers, not for humans (I can say that since I’m a developer). But I can’t believe that it’s 2009 and I still encounter things like the following example…

Every time I log into one of my online banking systems, I get a message like the following:

Online Banking Debug Message

This is just intrusive and rude behavior (as Alan Cooper might say). First of all, the message first off tells me when the last unsuccessful attempt was made to access the account… HUH??? Then it tries to be helpful and tell me when the last successful attempt was made.

It just makes no sense at all to me why this message exists at all. Why would I ever care about these particular statistics, and even if I did care about them, is it really necessary to pop up a message box every time I log in???

I vote no.

Fine. If you want to have that information accessible, provide a log of all accesses tucked away in my account settings or somewhere I can get to if I think I have a security concern. Don’t show this message to me, please. What this message boils down to is a debug-ish message in the clothing of security (I could be wrong, but that’s what it smells like to me).

Interestingly, as a side note, I happen to know that this system is from a company that is now owned by Intuit (my former stomping ground), and in the two or more years since that acquisition, this message box has surprisingly still not disappeared.