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Designing error messages – A Challenge

I see in some of the products functionality is very robust but poor design of error messages and some of the testers are blind to them even without testing them. As a programmer or a tester you might understand what the error is when even it is not well formed. But put yourself in customer’s shoes and try to see from his / her perspective. Here are few things that I have documented which act like a checklist while designing error messages or alert messages,

  1. Involving tester while designing error or alert message
  2. Ask a newbie to perform some task on your product and when error message is popped ask him / her whether he / she understands what went wrong?
  3. No spelling or grammatical mistake in error message
  4. How usable is the error message
  5. How readable is the error message
  6. Does the error message convey following things,

              – What went wrong?

              – What action does a user need to take in order make it correct?

              – Useful information like whom to contact if error message cannot be corrected by end-user

Feel free to add more points to this checklist in comments *smiles*.

Suggested Reading

Michael Bolton: A review of error messages


I have been as a software tester for over 5 years. I am a hands-on tester and I've been winning bug battles & testing competitions across the world. I am a testing enthusiast, who conducts free workshops on security testing across India (Covered locations: Bengaluru, Pune, Hyderabad & Chennai. Invite him to come to your location), and monthly meets for testers in Bengaluru. I am also an avid testing blogger.

My interests include traveling, driving my SUV, health & fitness and many others. I mentor budding entrepreneurs, testers, teams in any profession.

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