Now Reading: Writing Error Messages: How to Turn Mistakes into Opportunities

Loading
svg
Open

Writing Error Messages: How to Turn Mistakes into Opportunities

February 11, 20238 min read

Errors are a fact of life when it comes to using software, and they can be frustrating for users. However, effective error messages can turn a mistake into an opportunity to provide a better user experience. The art of error messages is about communicating clearly, providing helpful guidance, and minimizing the impact of the error. In this article, we’ll explore best practices for writing error messages that can turn mistakes into opportunities to delight your users.


Best Practices for Writing Effective Error Messages

Be Clear and Concise

Clear and concise error messages are critical for effective communication. They should be easy to understand and provide information that is actionable. Avoid using technical jargon or language that is too complex for the user to understand.

Be Helpful and Provide Guidance

Effective error messages provide guidance on how to correct the issue. This can include step-by-step instructions or links to relevant resources. Providing helpful guidance can turn a frustrating error message into a positive experience for the user.

Avoid Blame and Judgment

Error messages that blame or judge the user can be off-putting and counterproductive. Instead, focus on providing helpful guidance and communicating the issue in a way that doesn’t make the user feel at fault.

Provide Feedback and Next Steps

After the user has taken corrective action, provide feedback that lets them know the issue has been resolved. It’s also helpful to provide information on what will happen next, such as if the user needs to refresh the page or restart the application.


Writing Error Messages: Examples

Good Copy: “The password you entered is incorrect. Please try again.”

This error message is clear and concise, letting the user know exactly what went wrong and what they need to do to fix it. It also avoids blaming or judging the user for their mistake.

Bad Copy: “Error: Invalid entry. You should know better than that.”

This error message is judgmental and unhelpful. It doesn’t provide any guidance on how to correct the issue and instead blames the user for their mistake.


Good Copy: “We’re sorry, we’re experiencing some technical issues. Our team has been notified and is working to resolve the issue. Please try again later.”

This error message is clear, helpful, and empathetic. It lets the user know that the issue is not their fault and that the company is actively working to resolve the issue. It also provides guidance on what the user can do in the meantime.

Bad Copy: “Error: 404 Page Not Found.”

This error message is not very helpful and can be confusing for users who are not familiar with the technical term “404”. It does not provide any guidance on how to fix the issue or what the user should do next.


Good Copy: “The email address you entered is not valid. Please enter a valid email address and try again.”

This error message is clear and concise, letting the user know exactly what went wrong and what they need to do to fix it. It is also helpful because it provides guidance on how to correct the issue.

Bad Copy: “Error: Invalid input. Try again.”

This error message is not very helpful because it does not provide any information on what went wrong or how to correct the issue. It also assumes that the user knows what the correct input should be, which may not always be the case.


Good Copy: “Sorry, your password must be at least 8 characters long and contain a combination of letters and numbers. Please try again.”

This error message is clear and provides helpful guidance on how to correct the issue. It also avoids blaming or judging the user for their mistake.

Bad Copy: “Error: Password not strong enough.”

This error message is not very helpful because it does not provide any guidance on how to make the password stronger or what the user should do next. It can also be off-putting because it implies that the user’s password is inadequate.


Good Copy: “The file you are trying to upload is too large. Please select a file that is less than 10MB.”

This error message is clear and provides helpful guidance on how to correct the issue. It also avoids blaming or judging the user for their mistake.

Bad Copy: “Error: File too big.”

This error message is not very helpful because it does not provide any guidance on how to make the file smaller or what the user should do next. It can also be off-putting because it implies that the user’s file is too large.


Conclusion

Writing effective error messages is an essential part of creating user-friendly software. By following best practices like being clear and concise, providing helpful guidance, avoiding blame and judgment, and providing feedback and the next steps, you can turn mistakes into opportunities to delight your users. By taking the time to craft effective error messages, you can improve the user experience and build stronger relationships with your users.


Writing Error Messages FAQ

Why writing error messages is important?

Clear error messages are important because they help the user understand what went wrong and how to fix it. This can reduce frustration and improve the overall user experience.

How can I test the effectiveness when writing error messages?

One way to test the effectiveness of your error messages is to conduct user testing. Ask users to complete tasks that are likely to result in errors and observe their reactions to the error messages.

How can I make writing error messages stand out?

To make your error messages stand out, you can use contrasting colors, bold text, or animation to draw the user’s attention to the message. However, be careful not to overdo it, as this can also be distracting and overwhelming.

How writing error messages can be more personal?

You can make your error messages more personal by using a friendly and conversational tone. Consider using humor or empathy to help the user feel more comfortable and less frustrated. However, be sure to maintain a professional tone and avoid being too casual or inappropriate.

What's Your Reaction?

Sander B.

Tech enthusiast and avid learner. Passionate about exploring new trends and sharing my knowledge with others. Always on the lookout for new opportunities to grow and improve. Putting the 'pro' in prose 📝 and the 'fun' in puns 🤣 #CopywritingAndComedy

Tagged In:#Microcopy,
svg

What do you think?

Show comments / Leave a comment

Leave a reply

svg