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Background: I am currently evaluating a medical enterprise application. This application enables certain tasks through the hardware ( medical device) for the patients.

As I redesign the User messages ( Warning, Error, Notifications etc..) I have come across a Warning message in the existing application, which needs to be displayed to the user ( medical application operator ) from a safety & compliance aspect.

The problem: The intent of the message is Warning. The title looks like permission. The content area of the message consists of, 1. Warning icon & message 2. Instruction icon & text link to access it 3. Radio button choice and call to action to 'confirm & start'

The message structure looks wrong on so many levels. While I feel this way. I would like to validate if this holds true and would really appreciate some perspectives on this. Hence, the question.

To further understand, can a user message of this nature be clubbed with another message?enter image description here Should they always exist independently only? Can anyone throw some light on an evolved Warning message guideline?

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Can you? YES

Should you? Well, depends on many factors, but quick answer is NO.


There are many articles written on the subject (a good start could be this one, which is very accurate yet funny and easy to read), but the important thing is to keep these tips in mind:

  • be informative about what happened and what triggered the warning
  • help the users know what to do to solve the issue
  • try to solve the issue by yourself whenever possible
  • lighten the mood and NEVER blame the user. Humor is a good idea to make error messages more friendly. And even though you might be convinced is the user's fault, it's always yours. Or at least that's what you should tell the user.

As for the degree of information needed, just provide AS MUCH AS NEEDED, AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE. You can offer to expand info if needed, but most users will only need a brief. Take a look at Google's example below:

enter image description here

in this case, Google only shows the top part: Title and a brief description. However, you can see there's a lot more information when expanded (the image shows the expanded status). Thus: you have a brief description, but you offer the user to read more if needed. I think your case could be quite similar to this.

Warning vs User Action

Your mockup shows the possibility of acting upon the warning, which is something you can do, and it's done quite often. However, it's not a good idea, because you're educating users on being error prone.

If they can solve issues from warnings, not only you're mixing warnings and actions BUT you're teaching the user that if they make an error, they will be able to fix it once they do it. This is obviously wrong on many levels. On top of that, from a programming point of view, you'll need to have a system that works in a "normal" way, so to speak, and another that interacts with warnings, which is crazy and a lot of additional and completely unnecessary burden of work.

Thus, I'd recommend to tell your users the appropriate steps to follow from a proper area (for example, settings). Also, if needed, make sure roles and permissions are adequately defined. For example: are these certain actions on hardware based on permissions?

This way, by creating an area where users can choose this settings, you can centralize everything related to the behavior/interaction of hardware AND users can get back to this area in case of need. Otherwise.... they would need to make an error in order to get the option to solve it!

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Generally, the major rule of showing error/warning message is to keep it short.

You want your user to be able read and conceive the error message without getting overwhelmed or thwarted. Some of the easy and effective ways of showing error with instruction:

  • Underline the entry field (in case of) in red rather than highlighting or showing an alert box.
  • Mention the error in a single sentence (no more than that) and follow it up with the fix
  • Instruct the user on how to fix the error rather than explaining the error
  • In case the instruction is too big to be assimilated in a sentence, prompt it before the user enters the data
  • Always mention the problem/consequence rather than the literal warning/error (like, it's preferable to write This action will take longer to execute rather than Bulk upload can take up to 10 minutes or more depending upon the internet connection

Here's a good example of error:

Google material design error format

and a bad example: enter image description here

Hope this helps

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