I am currently working on a banking site. We are designing a section of the site where users can follow their applications, i.e. for a loan. They can sign and upload documents from there.

There will be a list of documents to provide. For instance their ID, proof of address, proof of income etc. For each type of document, they can upload several files if needed.

Imagine they click on Proof of income, they will be prompted a modal window with some guidelines and an upload area. Once they have finished adding the necessary file, they will have to press a "send" button. Once it's sent, they cannot change those files or replace them. This is a technical constraint.

According to you, how should we handle errors? If one of the files is too big, we will signify it appropriately, but should we force the user to delete that file or replace it so that the modal is clear of any error message before sending?

Or should we let the user see the error message, add a different file while leaving that error message visible on the page, and sending the whole thing with the error message still displayed?

In the image below, this is the case where a file generated an error on one of the 2 files uploaded. Do we force the user to delete that error from the interface before sending?

Thanks for your help

  • What do you propose is the user benefit to listing old errors in the modal? Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 15:47

1 Answer 1


Files which didn't upload correctly don't exist as far as I'm concerned as a user, and (hopefully) also as far as the server is concerned. So asking the user to delete a rejected file is... odd. It's like ordering a pizza, getting told "we only do burgers" and then having to pay before being let out because you didn't cancel your order.

Information about rejected files are errors, not files themselves. Depending on the context they're presented in they can go away on their own once you upload another file (if it can be implied that the second upload is a second attempt at uploading the same thing, rather than a different file), or persist until dismissed manually.

In the case of your modal, I see your main concern is users thinking they uploaded a file when they actually didn't and being unable to rectify this mistake later on. To aid with that, it may make sense to show a full-scale preview of all successfully uploaded files. A folder full of files titled img_lotsofnumbers_lotsofnumbers.jpg potentially belonging to different unrelated documents is a hazard to work with anyway (yet something I do), so being able to actually validate the content of the files (especially page numbers) is very helpful.

In another small note, TIFF is a somewhat common format coming out of scanners. It may be worth accepting these files and converting them into something more useful for storage yourself, rather than erroring the user about it.

  • Thanks for this thorough comment. What you said about files that didn't upload makes a lot of sense. However I don't have any say in which types of files are accepted and we unfortunately can't provide a preview of the files. Strong technical constraints to work with. Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 20:47
  • 1
    I was afraid you'd say that. In this case the best attempt I have would be something like "send 3 files" as the "send" action Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 20:53
  • excellent idea, that we can recommend Commented Feb 1, 2023 at 9:03

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