An error is a deviation from the specified or intended behavior.

Positive error messaging helps incentivize users to achieve a certain goal. Error messages should be clear and concise, conversational, and constructive.

  • Tell the user what went wrong and provide a path forward
  • Don’t use technical jargon
  • Be constructive and help user take action

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Type of errors

User Errors

  • Is: error message appears when the user makes a mistake
  • Use when: users need to change their entry or take an action to continue
  • Product use cases: input fields

Type of Errors Example: User Errors

System Errors

  • Is: the error message is caused by the system, not by the user
  • Use when: system couldn't proceed with the user request, or an unexpected error occurs.
  • Product use cases: 404 page, broken link

System Errors

Design Guidelines

Be clear and concise

Write error messages in an informative way that clearly articulates what went wrong in a few words.

Help users to understand the problem at a glance.
Use too many words.

Be optimistic & conversational

Use conversational language that is neutral or positive.

Be optimistic and a little nerdy.
Use alarming language or colors that shame the user.

Be Constructive

Describe what went wrong and provide a path forward if possible.

Provide related articles for the user to read even if no offer was found.