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We are designing a new android application.
The app is in its initial stage of architectural design and UI definition.

One of the main question is how to display internet connection error message, On some Google apps, the app displays the message and a button 'retry', while others such Facebook, Linkedin show a red message.

  1. Which is the best way to display the internet connectivity message, with or without 'Retry' button? Is not the 'retry'button more intuitive?
  2. Which form is best for android users, a dialog message, a toast message or something else?

I am familiar with android developers sites. However, even if they have provided a clear definition for messages, there is no any strict adherence to them. E.g. in google apps, Google Analytics shows a dialog message, Youtube and Play Store show a white screen with 'Retry' button, Google Drive shows a toast message etc. It is a little bit confusing. Which one is for what. In my case, we can do nothing without internet connection and it is required.

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Can you describe the nature of your application, and the implications of what not having an internet connection means to it? For example: "Bummer, no network connection" vs. "You expect me to do anything useful without a network connection!?" –  Evil Closet Monkey Mar 12 at 15:57
    
I think the design should be based on what it means if you have no internet (like Evil Closet Monkey said). A news app for example could do without internet for a few minutes (given that you just had internet connection and there are some articles already loaded). An instant messaging app however would greatly depend on a stable internet connection and thus I would inform the user in a very prominent way. Telling him there's no internet connection so he can't receive or send chats. –  Ruudt Mar 12 at 16:16
    
@EvilClosetMonkey,@Ruudt Internet connection is required for the app, as it can do nothing without it –  saakian Mar 12 at 18:36
    
There are 2 possible connection problems: 1. There is the general "internet connection" problem, which is independent from the app. (Example: no wifi connection). This is a problem with the device itself and should also be handled by the device itself, or the OS to be more precise. 2. There is the connection problem with the app's back end. (Example: your device has got a working internet connection, but the facebook app cannot connect to the facebook server using that internet connection). This should be handled by the app itself in some elegant way. –  Bart Gijssens Mar 13 at 8:22

1 Answer 1

I'll answer your question in reverse

Which form is best for android users, a dialog message, a toast message or something else?

To answer this you will need to understand what a toast message is used for and when do you use a dialog message.

  • A toast message is used to give a notification about some event or activity which is not critical and needs user interaction. To quote the android developers site

A toast provides simple feedback about an operation in a small popup. It only fills the amount of space required for the message and the current activity remains visible and interactive. For example, navigating away from an email before you send it triggers a "Draft saved" toast to let you know that you can continue editing later. Toasts automatically disappear after a timeout.

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  • Dialog box : To quote the android developers site again :

A dialog is a small window that prompts the user to make a decision or enter additional information. A dialog does not fill the screen and is normally used for modal events that require users to take an action before they can proceed.

enter image description here

Now which one should you use ?

This depends on your app and the need your app has for internet connectivity. If your app is like a ebook reader where you just need internet connectivity to check for updates, then a toast notification might suffice if its not critical to the functioning of the app and the app can just work fine without internet.

However if its an app which needs real time data from the internet (e.g. A news reading app which will not show any data without internet access) then a dialog box might work out better as you need to get your users to acknowledge an action is needed.


Which is the best way to display the internet connectivity message, with or without 'Retry' button? Is not the 'retry'button more intuitive?

I would recommend going for the retry option as the retry button allows them to do another call to see if internet access is available and doesn't require them to close the popup notification and try to refresh the app by any other means to get connectivity back. However do ensure you have a suitable error message which informs them that network access is not available so that users know what they are retrying for.

With regards to your comment, Youtube and Play store do have an alternate method of refresh i.e. pull to refresh and hence they can get away with a error message and expect the user to use the pull to refresh.Google drive can show a toast notification as it has still some locally referenced content and can work without internet for a while.

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Very helpful, thanks. I am familiar with android developers sites. However, even if they have provided a clear definition for messages, there is no any strict adherence to them. E.g. in google apps, Google Analytics shows a dialog message, Youtube and Play Store show a white screen with 'Retry' button, Google Drive shows a toast message etc. It is a little bit confusing. Which one is for what. In my case, we can do nothing without internet connection and it is required. –  saakian Mar 12 at 18:35

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