In the event of an API error in our web app, we display some informational text as follows:

   [error icon]

   Something went wrong
   <Instructions here>

For the instructions, we are considering "Try refreshing your browser" or "Try reloading this page."

There is some debate about which would be more easily understood by users. In browsers, the reload button tooltip is labeled "Reload page," but some think "refreshing the browser" is a more commonly-understood phrase.

Any experience or opinions?


Reload Page

  • Some users don't even know what the "browser" is. They just "go to the internet". But everyone, hopefully, knows what a web "page" is, so "reload page" makes sense.
  • "Refresh Browser" could be understood as "close browser and start it again", which is a problem if you have a bunch of open tabs, need to login to other pages again, etc.
  • "Refresh Browser" can imply "update my browser to the latest version". I know that may seem like a stretch, but it is not far off.
  • The problem is the "page" - i.e., the API functions that are used to create the content - and not the "browser" itself.
  • Yes, and people understand "page" better because of the strong real world analogy with a physical book page. – Franchesca Nov 16 '18 at 8:22

After years of designing and building websites, it still amazes me that in Q4 2018 I have to repeatedly explain how to do things like "refresh a page" to get the latest content. The moral of the story? Never underestimate how low the bar for tech knowledge really is.

I prefer "Reload Page" but you're going to experience confusion regardless of what you call the task. Is there any way you can ask people in your target audience even if its just general demographic info? Are they 55+? Is it mostly browsed on mobile? Try to determine how those people think.

I suggest adding you're own button and using Javascript or similar to force reload the page. Then you can use wording like: "Having problems? Why not try Reloading the page. Then the correct interaction is right there, no thinking required.

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