Error Handling on Mobile Devices: Showing Alerts

Summary:Using a modal dialog to display an error message can cause usability problems on mobile devices. Error handling must respect human-memory constraints and remain visible as the user is fixing the problem.

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Error Message Guidelines

Established wisdom holds that good error messages are polite, precise, and constructive. The Web brings a few new guidelines: Make error messages clearly visible, reduce the work required to fix the problem, and educate users along the way.

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Raluca Budiuis Director of Research at Nielsen Norman Group, where she consults for clients from a variety of industries and presents tutorials on mobile usability, designing interfaces for multiple devices, quantitative usability methods, cognitive psychology for designers, and principles of human-computer interaction. She also serves as editor for the articles published on NNgroup.com. Raluca coauthored the NN/g reports on tablet usability, mobile usability, iPad usability, and the usability of children's websites, as well as the book Mobile Usability.She holds a Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University.

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