Error Message should be clear, plain, and direct

This post is about a real error message I received and puzzled through.  Luckily, because I was working with open source code, I was able to see a copy of the source, and only then did I understand what the message meant.  An error message should not require you to know and understand the source, in order to understand the message, and I think this is the root of the mistake that many programmers make. Continue reading

Usability Means Well-Behaved, even when the User Isn’t

Users of a program found that sometimes, when they went to log in, they did not get a place to enter the username & password.  Instead of the normal login prompt, they got a blank screen, and it was completely impossible to login. Sounds like a bad bug that needs to be fixed immediately, but the development team response was even more surprising: this was the user’s fault! Continue reading