Too many error messages will confuse the user. Is there any simple method to overcome validation?

  • 4
    Hi Pradeep. This is a very broad question which will probably not give you any useful answers. Can you further clarify the problem? – Bart Gijssens Mar 4 '14 at 12:49
  • 1
    Ideally with screenshots of how you're seeing "too many errors" with your example. – zigojacko Mar 4 '14 at 14:30
  • Why do you think they will confuse the user? Sounds like an idle assumption stemming from dangerous generalizations like "users don't like clutter". If the user got 5 fields wrong, it is possible that 5 highlights with a text describing what went wrong with each is the best solution, which in my book counts as 5 error messages. Do you have any evidence that your users are confused? And that the confusion is based on the number of error messages as opposed to, say, ambiguity in the error text? – Rumi P. Mar 4 '14 at 14:59

Instead of dumping a long list of errors on the user, you should attach each error to it's corresponding field - write the error next to the field or color the field in red and show the error in the hover text or whatever way you like to make the error visually attached to the field.

That way, instead of having to deal with a long list of errors and matching it to a long list of fields, the user can easily treat each field with error separately without being confused.

  • 1
    Additionally, you could provide a summary of the errors at the top of the form (like "There are 5 required fields which are empty"). If the only type of validation error you have in your form are required-fields-are-blank then you can skip repeating the error message on each invalid field and simply display the summary at the top (and maybe list the fields by name, and definitely indicate the invalid fields by colour/markers). – Erics Mar 4 '14 at 14:26
  • This is so true. I might be venting a little bit, but our school's course registration system is a UX nightmare. I wouldn't even call it UX -- it's the utter lack of UX. Code 1ET8ZJG8 was not matched to 9EJ8X9RB because of error code W99DHE8 -- what am I reading?! Who designed this? Who allowed this to be used? Did anyone ever test it? – theGreenCabbage Mar 4 '14 at 21:22

If you mean how to avoid as much as possible some errors message due to errors of the user, you could use a placeholder to give the user the example.


There's no simple method to overcome validation, but validation can be designed in good or bad ways. If you search this forum you'll find a lot of questions regarding that!


This is one flow I've seen before:

  1. Form loads with light coloured pre-fill to describe the syntax that should be used to set expectation. This disappears on focus.
  2. User enters in information.
  3. Next page contains a message requesting the user to double check their form entry and ONLY shows the fields that were in error.
  4. Error messages appear on each field on hover.

User cycles through step 3 and 4 until the form is filled correctly.

Apologies, as I can't seem to find the link to this sample but I think that's one approach you could try.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.