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I have a desktop application which has 3 fields for logging in: Username, Password, and Server URL.

Application logon screen

After reading similar questions, I've decided that my application will reset the password field if either the username or password is incorrect. However, I'm not sure if I should clear it for unrelated errors.

Let's say there is some type of connection error. It could be caused by server downtime, firewall issues, or some other issue outside a user's control. If this happens, my program displays a connection error asking them to try again later.

Should I clear the password field if there's an unrelated connection issue?

  • What is the nature of your application? Is it typically used in a public setting? By individuals, or workplace employees? – maxathousand Mar 13 '18 at 16:00
  • @maxathousand It is a private application that will be used by office employees. – Stevoisiak Mar 13 '18 at 16:08
  • If I were in your situation, I would elevate this question to your manager/stakeholders and have someone else make this decision. You're right to put a conscious effort towards making the application user-friendly, but your business unit might have more meaningful things to say on the matter than us on UX.SE. – maxathousand Mar 13 '18 at 16:14
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Even looking at the similar question I'd be curious to test the scenario with users. You do have two points of view Security and then UX. Security will usually come first.

The arguments given in the other post don't relate to your question and in that case security isn't an issue. From a UX perspective you don't want to reset the field if there's a connection error.

If there's an incorrect username or password and you clear the password be sure to explain what the system is doing instead of just clearing the field and leaving the interpretation up to the user.

EDIT:

So yeah. Your connection error shouldn't reset the password.

  • My program has a unique error for connection issues, so the user knows it isn't related to their username or password. – Stevoisiak Mar 13 '18 at 15:45
  • Exactly what I was about to say. Certainly this is a situation where you will have to decide between what's best for the user experience (leave entire form populated, simply showing the error), and potential security concerns (perhaps the connection is taking a while and the user leaves the computer unattended). – maxathousand Mar 13 '18 at 15:59
  • @maxathousand brings up a great point. Do your users leave their computers unattended and unlocked? If so then it might be a good time to have a meeting about onsite security :P – Oddball Mar 13 '18 at 16:11
  • You could say that if the users feel that not clearing the password field makes them feel insecure (or if making them enter it again feels unnecessarily) then it is related to the user experience as well. – Michael Lai Mar 13 '18 at 21:30

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