Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member

Handling errors and error messages

From: Applied Interaction Design

Video: Handling errors and error messages

We're back on the first step of the checkout process on the original Hansel and Petal website. And we were just talking about the fact that this Date selector down at the bottom. I have to type in this information, and I just manually typed in May 13, 2013. I'm worried that this might not be valid information, it might be a mistake. Actually, let's talk about that for a second. Let's make a distinction between mistakes and errors. Most of the time, when we're talking about Interaction design, we're very worried about errors. When something happens that actually stops or interferes with the completion of a process, we don't go any further forward.

Handling errors and error messages

We're back on the first step of the checkout process on the original Hansel and Petal website. And we were just talking about the fact that this Date selector down at the bottom. I have to type in this information, and I just manually typed in May 13, 2013. I'm worried that this might not be valid information, it might be a mistake. Actually, let's talk about that for a second. Let's make a distinction between mistakes and errors. Most of the time, when we're talking about Interaction design, we're very worried about errors. When something happens that actually stops or interferes with the completion of a process, we don't go any further forward.

Everything comes to a grinding halt. On the other hand, a mistake is an incorrect choice or wrong information. It doesn't prevent the process from moving forward, but the outcome may not be what I desired. Just give you a quick example. If I have say, a $1,000 in a bank account, and I'm trying to transfer a $100 to you, if I accidentally type in one $1,000 as the transfer, the bank will do that. It was not my intention, it was a mistake, but I had enough money in my bank account for that transfer to occur.

On the other hand, if I have $500 in my bank account and I want to transfer $100 to you. But I type a $1,000, then an error is going to occur because I don't have enough money in the bank account for a $1,000 transaction. So the bank will send a message back and say, sorry, we can't do that you don't have enough money. So the error stopped the process but a mistake went forward and I just had the wrong outcome, it was not what I expected.

In this particular case, I am not sure if this is a valid date or if this is the correct date format but I'm pretty sure that if I don't have a correct, it will tell me. So, if we click Next to move forward, well, I kind of am still here. But if you notice at the very top of the page, something seems to have, yes, we have an error. So we've got a couple problems going on here. One is that I almost missed that error message. It appeared at the top of the page but I made the mistake down here.

We want the error message to be in a noticeable position. You can image that I might not have seen this at all. There are some best practices for handling error messages and making sure people see them. When an error occurs, we need to tell people what has happened and we need to make sure that they notice it. There's a few things for the error messages that we need to remember. One, we should use natural language and don't blame the person. The error can be corrected, we need to describe what went wrong, explain why it went wrong, and recommend how to resolve the error. In other words we need to provide assistance.

We need help people understand what happened, and what they can do about it in order to continue moving forward. So, the problems that we have on this particular page now, are that the error message, was not immediately visible to me. If I hadn't noticed just a slight shift in the content of the page in that little peak of yellow, I may not have seen that error message at all. It would of been much better to place the error message, right next to the date field, so that it was immediately visible to me.

Or better yet, use the calendar widget, so that I'm only able to select from valid dates. But the message that we have in this error message is not clear, Invalid date. Does that mean that you can't ship on the 15th? Or does that mean that I typed the 15th in, in the wrong format? If it's the wrong format and I have to put it in a particular way such as 05152013. Well then you should at least show me what the format for the data should be in the error message. Or better yet, if I have to type it in in a particular format, show me the format that I have to use right next to the form field before I even start typing that information in.

Once again, our best solution would be the calendar widget. If I can't use the calendar widget, and there's a required format, show me the format right here. So that I understand from the beginning how I need to enter that information. That's a situation where we're making people work harder than they need to. We should be able to be smart. If we're not going to use the calendar widget, allow people to put the date information in however they want. And then reformat it however you need it, for your database. They can enter the information in multiple formats, you simply translate it to the format that you need.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Applied Interaction Design
Applied Interaction Design

32 video lessons · 5147 viewers

David Hogue
Author

 

Start learning today

Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.

Become a member
Sometimes @lynda teaches me how to use a program and sometimes Lynda.com changes my life forever. @JosefShutter
@lynda lynda.com is an absolute life saver when it comes to learning todays software. Definitely recommend it! #higherlearning @Michael_Caraway
@lynda The best thing online! Your database of courses is great! To the mark and very helpful. Thanks! @ru22more
Got to create something yesterday I never thought I could do. #thanks @lynda @Ngventurella
I really do love @lynda as a learning platform. Never stop learning and developing, it’s probably our greatest gift as a species! @soundslikedavid
@lynda just subscribed to lynda.com all I can say its brilliant join now trust me @ButchSamurai
@lynda is an awesome resource. The membership is priceless if you take advantage of it. @diabetic_techie
One of the best decision I made this year. Buy a 1yr subscription to @lynda @cybercaptive
guys lynda.com (@lynda) is the best. So far I’ve learned Java, principles of OO programming, and now learning about MS project @lucasmitchell
Signed back up to @lynda dot com. I’ve missed it!! Proper geeking out right now! #timetolearn #geek @JayGodbold
Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.


Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ .

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.


Mark all as unwatched Cancel

Congratulations

You have completed Applied Interaction Design.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.


OK
Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member ?

Become a member to like this course.

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses.

Get started

Already a member?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

The classic layout automatically defaults to the latest Flash Player.

To choose a different player, hold the cursor over your name at the top right of any lynda.com page and choose Site preferences from the dropdown menu.

Continue to classic layout Stay on new layout
Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Learn more, save more. Upgrade today!

Get our Annual Premium Membership at our best savings yet.

Upgrade to our Annual Premium Membership today and get even more value from your lynda.com subscription:

“In a way, I feel like you are rooting for me. Like you are really invested in my experience, and want me to get as much out of these courses as possible this is the best place to start on your journey to learning new material.”— Nadine H.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.


Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from lynda.com.

Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

   
submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.