Consider the error message:

enter image description here

I am surprised that Google decided to have it this way because I assume that people wouldn't rather be eager to read nine lines of text with no typography (nothing emphasised etc.).

Wouldn't it be better to use an itemized list here like the following one?

  • We tried to visit paypal.com, but thanks to HSTS we detected a possible network attack,
  • Please check if a WiFi login screen interrupted the connection, try visiting an unencrypted website,
  • Your data is still safe, but you cannot continue. Network errors and attacks are usually temporary, try again later.

I also thought of a bullet list describing the problem in two headings: "what happened?" and "what can I do?".

Would this be any better? What's the rule of thumb on how much text can be put in an error message?

  • interesting question. did you have to click on a "show advanced" link to display the paragraph at the bottom? I'm asking because the "hide advanced" link placement seems a little weird.
    – tohster
    Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 19:31
  • @tohster: Yes, I did have to do that.
    – d33tah
    Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 19:55
  • Just a side note - anything related to Tor shouldn't be done in Chrome
    – Jon
    Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 21:43
  • This isn't my screenshot.
    – d33tah
    Commented Jun 14, 2015 at 8:52

1 Answer 1


IMHO, it's the right way to do it. See, at first I agreed with you, until I realized you're not seeing an error message, but technical description on an error message, which is an absolutely different thing. The error message itself is short, clearly represented by iconography and header and a very short text that describes the problem. Then they have a reload button. See how they gave the user the appropriate button copy. They didn't choose let's panic or go berserk , but the adequate action for this error, with no emotional load on such sensible error: simply reload, it will be OK.

And here's where I like the screen more and more: the user chooses to display advanced info and they get the information in context. But instead of enumerating a list of errors and problems, they simply explain in plain language what happened, added 0 emotional load and say: simply reload, it will be OK.

Basically, what they're doing is to calm down the user, explaining the truth without added drama, and the steps to follow: none for most users, a few if you're an advanced user with an inquisitive mind or a bit of paranoia. Or simply put: no matter how crazy you want to get, simply reload.

EDIT: as a matter of fact, I'm not a fan of the error message itself, it's a bit on the paranoid side and conflicts with everything else in the screen

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