Why Good Looking Error Messages Matter

by Andy Polaine on June 11, 2008

in General

baggage_error.jpg

Almost anything involving computers falls over once in a while, but it’s how you handle it that makes all the difference.

I spotted this in Newcastle airport the other day. I see a crappy broken Windows system almost every time I travel. I imagine travellers going through Heathrow’s Terminal 5 saw quite a few too.

Now, not only could someone have done a better job of handling the error on the application coding side, it’s also such shitty branding for Microsoft. Every time I see one of these I think: “Microsoft products can’t run enterprise systems without falling over – I wouldn’t let them near any project of mine.”

Given the massive wads of cash companies spend on those inane glossy business-management-enterprise-big-dick-corporation ads you always see in airports, this would seem to unravel the band promise it all pretty quickly. With all the new tech, it’s only going to get worse.

(Sorry about the crappy picture – I wasn’t too sure about taking photos in the airport. You know, just in case I got shot by the British Police or something).

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jarrett June 12, 2008 at 7:18 am

Exactly. Compare, for example, the early Macintosh’s charming “bomb” icon that accompanied major system errors. Half the time, Microsoft delivers errors in the language of DOS, esoteric murmurs rich with hexidecimals. Apple understood that even data-disasters should be rendered in their user-friendly pictorial interface.

2 Andy Polaine June 12, 2008 at 4:35 pm

The bomb was cute. I can’t say I’m so much a fan of OS X’s grey curtain of death, but at least it is multilingual and tells you what to do.

(Nobody noticed my own error in the title of this post? I forgot to write messages plural…)

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