Galin Iliev's blog

Software Architecture & Development

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Outlook Recently I got the error message and with a smile remembered the funny video showing how developers in Microsoft really shares the users’ pain.

I knew what to do (after saving draft message):
Plan A: Restart outlook and try again.
Plan B: Use Outlook Web Access

But will typical user know what to do without lose data?!

Then I remembered how good error messages are built: they should contain three parts. No less because it cannot provide full information. No more because user is overwhelmed. Exactly three:

  1. Describe what happened – first part briefly describes what went wrong.
  2. Give directions what to fix – user might really know what to fix. It could be just overlooked. Tell them what to change to fix the problem. Even program/PC restart is a solution.
  3. What next?! What if the problem still persist?! – If we are here then the problem is serious. And the user have tried basic scenarios to fix and can call someone for help without feeling stupid/guilty that don’t know how to fix the problem.

On other hand this is extremely useful message:


P.S. Plan A did the job :)

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