Christian Heilmann

Yahoo login issue on mobile – don’t fix the line length of your emails

Monday, July 7th, 2014 at 1:11 pm

Yesterday I got a link to an image on Flickr in a tweet. Splendid. I love Flickr. It has played a massive role in the mashup web, I love the people who work in there and it used to be a superb place to store and share photos without pestering people to sign up for something. Twitter has also been a best-of-breed when it comes to “hackable” URLs. I could get different sizes of images and different parts of people’s pages simply by modifying the URL in a meaningful way. All in all, a kick-ass product, I loved, adored, contributed to and gave to people as a present.

Until I started using a mobile device.

Well, I tapped on the link and got redirected to Chrome on my Nexus 5. Instead of seeing an image as I expected I got a message that I should please download the epic Flickr app. No thanks, I just want to see this picture, thank you very much. I refused to download the app and went to the “web version” instead.

This one redirected me to the Yahoo login. I entered my user name and password and was asked “for security reasons” to enter animated captcha. I am not kidding, here it is:

animated captcha with bouncing letters over a letter storm or something

I entered this and was asked to verify once more that I am totally me and would love to see this picture that was actually not private or anything so it would warrant logging in to start with.

I got the option to do an email verification or answer one of my security questions. Fine, let’s do the email verification.

An email arrived and it looked like this:

verification email with cut off text

As you can see (and if not, I am telling you now) the text seems cut off and there is no code in the email. Touching the text of the mail allows me to scroll to the right and see the full stop after “account.” I thought at first the code was embedded as an image and google had filtered it out, but there was no message of that sort.

Well, that didn’t help. So I went back in the verification process and answered one of my questions instead. The photo wasn’t worth it.

What happened?

By mere chance I found the solution. You can double-tap the email in GMail for Android and it extends it to the full text. Then you can scroll around. For some reason the longest line gets displayed and the rest collapsed.

The learning from that: do not fix line widths in emails (in this case it seems 550px as a layout table) if you display important information.

I am not sure if that is a bug or annoyance in GMail, but in any case, this is not a good user experience. I reported this to Yahoo and hopefully they’ll fix this in the login verification mail.

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