Chapter20b: Error Handling: part 2 Error messaging

To have a successful form submission, users should be given enough information to fill it before they hit the submit button. Even then chances of filling incorrect information happens due to various reasons. It is probably impossible to cater the needs of all user types.
When a form submission fails the critical part is “How to you convey the message to the user.”. The fundamental rule is not just to rely on any visual clues or icons. A message with real text is important. The visual clues such as highlighting with red or an error icon should be an addition to the text message.

How do you frame the text message?

So the error message is vital to communicate the problem to the user. It is not sufficient to say that the information you entered is incorrect. Eg: “The date of birth is not correct”. Content authors may also need to convey what could be the correct data. Eg: “The date of birth cannot be a later date than today” if the user fills in a future date. If the user may also fill in an incorrect format, where the message can be “Date of birth should be in MM/DD/YYYY format”.
In certain situations the suggestion cannot be provided considering the security and privacy of the user. Eg: For incorrect password for your bank login, the error message cannot be “Incorrect password, try changing the last 3 characters”.