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I just got done with my Sign Up form set up for my File Sharing & Hosting service and now I'm at a point where I'm developing the returning of form errors.

There are 6 fields, and they are all mandatory which is said in the paragraph above the form. Error messages will be displayed in red and under the input it is about.

I came up with some error messages, but I am not sure if they are the most user friendly or if I need to reword them in any way for more consistency?

  1. User doesn't fill in a name or fills it with illegal characters:

    • Please enter your name.
  2. User doesn't fill in an email or fills it with an invalid email:

    • Please enter your email address.
  3. User doesn't fill in a password or fills it with less then 6 characters:

    • Choose a password at least 6 characters long.
  4. User doesn't fill in the reCAPTCHA code or fills it incorrectly:

    • Please enter the correct reCAPTCHA text.
  5. User doesn't check the checkbox that agrees with the Terms:

    • You must agree to the terms of service.
  • How do you know a users name doesn't have illegal characters? What is an illegal character anyway? I'd just look to ensure they've populated the field rather than doing any specific validation / verification on that particular one. People can have very weird names. – JonW Apr 15 '14 at 9:42
  • Currently I have the illegal characters set to be: \ / : ? * < > " | – Kid Diamond Apr 15 '14 at 9:44
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  1. User can enter his name later in his profile, if he wants to. The ultimate rule of any form is to be as simple (use as less fields) as possible. Users are lazy.
  2. Assuming you have proper labels above your fields (and that all of them are mandatory), it makes sense to highlight erroneous fields with red outline and display one "Please fill" message at the beginning of the form.
  3. This needs a little explaining, what's a confirmation email? Do I enter an email two times?
  4. Instead of recovering, try to prevent the errors. Use some kind of password strength indicator in order to be sure the password is fine before submitting the form. Another question – are you certain that weak password is such a big issue?
  5. Are you sure you need the captcha thing? There are less intrusive techniques to filter out the bots. Also why don't you consider social logins?
  6. One way to solve this is to have a "By submitting this form you agree to the terms" message instead of checkbox. The other one (applies to other fields as well) – is to have submit button disabled before every field is good to go.

Hope it makes sense.

  • You are exactly right ! – Trevör Apr 15 '14 at 11:55
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Your error messages can be more polite and specific.

You cannot have this message "Please enter your name." for both your conditions. If the user has entered a name and if you show him the above message then he will be confused. You need to tell him more specifically what is the error and what will be the correct input. Like "Your name cannot have illegal characters"

I have some suggestions for you.

User doesn't fill in a name or fills it with illegal characters:

  • Please enter your name. / Your name contains illegal characters

User doesn't fill in an email or fills it with an invalid email:

  • Please enter your email address. / The email you have entered is invalid. Please enter a valid email.

User confirmation email doesn't match with the user input email:

  • Your entered email and confirmed email does not match.

User doesn't fill in a password or fills it with less then 6 characters:

  • Your password needs to be at least 6 characters long.

User doesn't fill in the reCAPTCHA code or fills it incorrectly:

  • You entered an incorrect reCAPTCHA code.

User doesn't check the checkbox that agrees with the Terms:

  • You need agree to the terms of service.
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Your error messages seems correct to me (however, I'm not a native english speaker).
Edit : If you want to keep the e-mail confirmation, I would recommend you to say that the two e-mails doesn't match (with a better english than mine ;) ).

It goes a little bit out of the scope of this post, but since you are concerned by your UX, here is an advice for you : I wouldn't recommend you to ask the user to confirm his e-mail address, instead, you could simply offer him a way to change it's e-mail if he hasn't received any mail. You could also offer him a way to reload the reCAPTHA code and/or to load an audio CAPTHA if he has filled it incorrectly.

  • I would like to keep the confirmation email for the user to make sure that the email that's entered is correct. After signing up there will be a confirmation link sent to their email before they can access their account. Doing it this way will get me a database of more quality users, at the cost of a UX that's not optimal. But is a risk I'm willing to take. – Kid Diamond Apr 15 '14 at 9:26
  • We don't understand exactly what you mean by "confirmation e-mail", does the user need to enter his e-mail two times ? – Trevör Apr 15 '14 at 11:56
  • Yes. I edited the post. – Kid Diamond Apr 15 '14 at 12:08
  • @KidDiamond Ok thank you ! So, I don't understand in what way does it helps you to get a database of quality users ? – Trevör Apr 15 '14 at 12:10
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    After some research, I decided to remove the confirm email field. – Kid Diamond Apr 15 '14 at 18:25

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