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Error message

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Have you ever run into an error message that just didn’t make any sense? I know I have! It’s rather annoying to get a notice that says the system will be shut down but not telling why. Have I done something wrong? Did I push a button I wasn’t supposed to? WHAT HAPPENED??

There are guidelines for designing error messages. The main point to remember is to tell the user:

  • something has gone wrong (Use a red exclamation point, for example, to get the users attention)
  • what has gone wrong (Use sensible language. Most users don’t understand technical terms)
  • what to do about it (Help the user to recover from the occurred error)

So NOT like this:

Error Message.png

NOTE: This error message was made for this occasion with Atom Smasher’s Error Message Generator.

For more guidelines, read Jakob Nielsen’s Error Message Guidelines and Tim Fidgeon’s article Error Messages - What to do.

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