Guidelines to design Error Messages- Best Practices

Users will make mistakes; it’s a human tendency. Situations like these cause unnecessary frustration, if not handled correctly. That’s where Error Messages come to the rescue. Designing error messages is one of the important concepts in the field of UI design. It is also one of the important design principles. We have come up with some effective guidelines to design error messages in an efficient manner to enhance the overall user experience. 

  1. Clear and unambiguous error messages-

Messages should be simple, easy to understand, and in sync with the context being used. This will allow the user to fix the issue and move ahead with the normal flow.

  1. Do not blame the user

A good error message should convey the issue to the user in a humble manner. Like, in case the user misses to enter his email, the message should be like- ‘Please enter the email id’ unlike, ‘You did not enter the email id.’

  1. Do not use Technical Jargons

It’s difficult for a user to understand what does a 404 error signifies. Create a simple error message following the issue that explains the users about the real issue.  

  1. Direct the user

A good error message should have a clear problem statement and a direction to the solution (in case it is solvable by the user). If the user has already logged in with a particular email id and he/she is trying to sign up with the same id, the error message should go something like this- Cannot Register- This email id is already registered, kindly use some other.
Unlike, Cannot Register- Invalid Email.

  1. Place the messages properly

It is not the user’s responsibility to look for the error messages; they should be placed appropriately in context with the area of use. The above example justifies it correctly. Had it been one single message for all three, it would be difficult for the user to look for the error message and then come back and fix it.

In the end, it all comes down to keeping the end-users happy and provide them with impeccable user experience. We would be glad to know about some of your worst experiences, in terms of the error messages.
You can refer to the following links to learn more about designing a perfect error message.


Rashika Ahuja