UX Writing Challenge | Day 14: Escape the Crash!

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This is part of the 15-day UX Writing Challenge presented by Daily UX Writing.

Scenario: A user is shopping using a price comparison app that boasts “real-time” pricing on items. As they are checking the price of an item, something goes wrong. The problem is unknown.

Challenge: Write a message that informs the user that they cannot access the app right now. You cannot specify “why” the app doesn’t work, you also want them to continue using the app.

Headline: 30 characters max
Body: 120 characters max
Button(s): 15 characters max

Task & Goals

This is a problem that many of us have experienced all too often. We’re in the middle of using an app and suddenly it becomes unresponsive. Whether the content is taking too long to load or the app completely freezes, we feel frustrated on not knowing exactly what caused it to crash. Was it our connection? Did we do something wrong? Did the servers suddenly crash?

It’s one thing if the issue pertains to our connection or devices, but it’s another if it’s an issue with the app itself. While apps that crash are frustrating, apps that are only partially functional are just as frustrating if the user is unsure about what they can and can’t access.

For example, imagine you’re using a price comparison app for shopping and the prices aren’t loading. You know the app hasn’t crashed because the page isn’t frozen and the loading icon has been spinning for over a minute now. As you try to exit out of the page, you realize that the icon that normally takes you back hasn’t loaded either, so you’re stuck on this page!

It’s not clear why this is so you’re left frustrated because that means you have to quit and reload the app again.

Okay, so suppose that our user comes across this problem. Our goal is to write a message that tells the user that their desired content is currently unavailable, but the rest of the app works and they are able to navigate away from the issue to enjoy the rest of the app.

Concepts & Ideas

In situations like this, we need to write something that guides the user away from the unavailable page.

Normally if a page isn’t loading, it’s likely that the buttons that guide the user away from that page hasn’t loaded either.

So, we could write something like a pop-up notification to the user that provides them a button to go back out whenever this situation occurs.

How the app is able to detect that is an engineering question and that’s beyond the scope of this challenge. But in this case, ignorance is bliss because we’re told we can’t specify why the page doesn’t load.

So, here’s my copy:

Headline: Something Went Wrong
Body: We’re sorry. This page isn’t loading right now, but you can still shop. Click “Go Back” to go to your previous page.
Button: Go Back

The headline is short and simple and conveys the idea to the user that the app detected that something isn’t working. This signals the user that the app itself is still working, just not the particular feature that they’re trying to use.

With that, the body extends a helping hand and tells them what they can do next. By telling them that they can go back to the previous page, the user may feel relieved that they won’t have to start all over again.

Then there’s the button that tells them to go back to the previous page. I made the choice of having a single button because in this context, this is the only choice that the user should be provided because there isn’t much else that can be done on this page.

Here’s what the copy would look like:

Conclusion

When users experience a problem but have no guide as to what to do next, they’ll end up frustrated with our app. This challenge is an exercise in providing that lifeline to our users so that they can continue using our app and avoid the frustrating of trying to reload it.

How would you tackle this challenge? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. Again, I welcome any constructive feedback that you may have. Thanks for reading!

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