UX Pain Points: Error Messages

Evelyn Gandolfo

Evelyn Gandolfo

UX / UI design. I have a degree in Visual Communication Design from UNL. My first steps began when I entered the tech world, where I managed to link traditional design with new technologies, having participated in several projects where the key is the user experience.

What to do when things go wrong

As creators of digital products, we strive to ensure our platforms offer a seamless user experience. We make every effort to build our solutions with intuitive, simple navigation. However… What happens when the user makes a mistake? What if this mistake leads to system failure?

Error messages in digital products improve the interaction with users. Otherwise, they may abandon our site if they think the platform is not working or feel frustrated if they don’t know how to deal with the blocking step.

It is important to consider some best practices when defining these type of messages:

  • Avoid dead ends. When designing user flows, we should always give the user the option to perform at least one action -in other words, there should not be static screens where they get stuck in the process.
  • Contextualize. Users should always know where they are and what to do at any given step of the flow. In that case, if an error occurs, they will be able to understand what happened, why, and how to move forward.
  • Maintain coherence. Keeping a consistent structure helps improve the experience with error messages as it helps the user get familiar with the process and prevent a learning instance with every message.
  • Use a friendly tone and straightforward language. Jargon and developer speak are best omitted, along with the repeated use of negative words or uppercase.
  • Be brief and succinct. Explain the situation in plain language and with enough detail that the user can easily understand the expected action in every step of the flow.

Spending time designing error messages is a worthy investment. The experience with our digital product can be enhanced by taking into consideration the pain points in the user-product interactions to ensure users will be able to move past errors smoothly and learn from them.