In many of my projects, I have found architects guilty of preparing a design that leaves the error messages out of the question. And now, I come across an article that shows us 35 creative designs of showing a 404 page (http://www.onextrapixel.com/2011/03/09/the-secret-of-a-successful-error-page-with-35-amazing-404-page-designs/). As I was browsing some of these designs, I recall a designer I worked with – Beth. I learnt so much from her about design and especially Information Architecture. I have always found her looking at things differently be it work or a status update she did.
Coming back to error messages, in most applications I have noticed that error messages are cryptic like “An error has occurred, please check again and get back to System Administrator”. The user is needed to log a report with the call center and report what they were doing. Many a times a user would just ignore to do all that because it takes their time to do such stuff and they say we will come back and try another time – of course if it is not urgent. I see two issues here:
1. A user has been asked to do something that an application designer – An Architect could have done by designing the system right
2. The Application team has lost an opportunity of knowing where their application failed because a user chooses not to report it. They lost an opportunity to fix something pro-actively.