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Warning and Error Messages


Warning dialogs should be:

  • Understandable. Clearly phrased messages, do not use technical terms or obscure error codes.
  • Specific instead of general. If the message is reporting a problem concerning a specific object or application, the object or application name should be used when referring to it.
  • Informative and constructive. The reason for a problem should be given, and hints on how to solve it.
  • Polite, non-terrifying and non-blaming. Wording that terrifies the user ("fatal", "illegal") shouldn't be used, users shouldn't be blamed for their behavior, the message should be polite.

Confirmation buttons

  • When the user has the choice between two options, descriptive labels should be used instead of yes/no buttons.
  • When the message does not require further user input, the confirmation button should be labeled "Close" (instead of "OK").

Details on demand

  • If there are more than three sentences of explanation, they should be provided in a "Details" section. In the dialog, there should be only a short message.
  • Error codes and other technical information should be provided in a "Details" section.

Info panels

  • panels instead of dialogs may be used to display non-critical messages which do not require any further user interaction (typically dialogs with a single "OK" or "Close" button).

For examples, see Examples

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