UX Writing

6 UX Writing Tips for Error Messages

1. Give reason for error messages.

If the user is doing any mistake in filling any field, drop the error messages by showing their mistake. If simply you drop down the error message, they won’t come to know their mistake and will get frustrated. So your message should be clear and not ambiguous to protect your site from users frustration.

Don’t:

  • You cannot register
  • You cannot log in

Do:

  • a) You cannot login due to incorrect password.
  • b ) You cannot registered due to incorrect email id

2. Be precise

For good error messages, it should be as much precise/short as possible. No need to write in detail and make it more lengthy. Short and meaningful messages are more understandable. But be careful that message should not be so short that it misses the useful information

Don’t:

  • Your email address is incorrect. Please provide the correct email address.
  • Login failed

Do:

  • Please enter the correct email address
  • Login failed ! Email address error

3. Avoid technical words

Use simple language to write the error message. By using technical terms, the user will get more angry as it is difficult to understand.

Don’t :

  • Error 3452HG
  • WDGeneralNetworkError error 500

Do :

  • a) Error in the “First name” field
  • b) The network connection is lost

4. Adding Humor or not ?

Adding humor to your error messages may make a smile or may not to the user. But again it depends on your brand’s voice and tone. If your brand personality is cool and light like Disney, you can surely use humor into your error messages. It will be worthful. If your brand is having a serious personality like Nokia or Nike, Don’t try to add humor.

5. Blame yourself instead of Users

It is good to blame yourself instead of users even if they are doing any mistake. Or you can show their mistake by using some positive words and talking with them politely. This will reduce their frustration.

Don’t:

  • You have entered the wrong details.
  • The form you filled contains an error.

Do:

  • a) Sorry…It’s not you. It’s us.
  • b) Please check the details of your form again.

6. Use proper location

Show the error message exactly next to the field or nearby somewhere like above the field or under the field. Don’t show it somewhere under the form or above the form if the error is inside the field. It should be visible to the field which contains mistake so that user don’t have to look here and there when his/her form is getting submitted.

According to Kinneret Yifrah, writer of UX Microcopy

Four things you need to know to write good error messages are –

  • What was the user trying to do when they got the error message?
  • Why did the system respond with an error?
  • What can (or need) the user do to carry on and complete the process?
  • If there is no solution, is there an alternative action you can offer them (such as turning to support or a brick-and-mortar shop)?