In my application, we're very dependent on a service to provide some information that the user can interact with. It's possible that the service could be down, or in some invalid state to where any usage of it cannot occur. I'm curious as to how I should display said scenario to an end-user if they are trying to retrieve data from it.

Assuming a rectangular grid is showing the results in a column/row fashion, I'm thinking of adding an exclamation point at the top right corner, above the grid, if an error occurs during service access. Perhaps with a tool tip that when hovered over with a mouse would display the error message.

I'd like it to be obvious enough that something occurred, but not too obvious to where it clutters the UI.

1 Answer 1


Are you displaying data from other sources in the grid or is all of the data from the one service? If everything relies on the one service, you might want to consider replacing the grid with an "out of order" message of some time. An example of this in use would be a portal application(such as iGoogle) that displays a message about the portlet(or widget, etc) being unavailable.

A caution symbol(yellow triangle with exclamation point) with a tooltip that explains why it is displaying could work, but it isn't as noticeable.

  • Perhaps I could keep the outline of the grid (rectangular box), but have a subtle, low opacity message stating, "Error Message Here", spanning across the grid. This would leave the UI in its current state, not have to change geometry too much, and keep it non-intrusive. Thanks Logan, your response inspired my response.
    – user708
    Commented Aug 19, 2010 at 18:54

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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