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When a link or button is clicked and the user is shown a 500 error page because something went wrong technically, what should happen when the page is refreshed? 1. Go to where the user intended to go or? 2. Reload the same 500 page?

  • 1
    That's kind of like saying: "if the user made a mistake then rectified it, should I still show that user an error?" No, take them to the intended page! – Majo0od Feb 25 '16 at 23:04
  • If you know where they were trying to go, redirect them to that page, right? Why would you want them to go back to an error page if you can prevent that? – invot Feb 25 '16 at 23:08
  • @Majo0od a 500 error is not a user error. – luchomolina Mar 1 '16 at 1:12
  • @luchomolina correct. But if there is no error, don't show one. – Majo0od Mar 1 '16 at 1:15
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Provide clear next steps for the user.

Start with thinking about the key workflow for a 500 page, i.e. what do you want to accomplish?

A very typical 500 workflow is:

  1. Inform the user that something has gone wrong
    • You may also provide additional information if it's available.
  2. Provide user with a clear next step. This may be:
    • Return to home page button
    • Attempt to recover your document button
    • Please contact customer service at 1.800.MY.COMPANY instruction

Here's an example...there is a clear top-to-bottom visual flow, with a clear action button at the bottom.

500 page example

If the user refreshes a 500 page, it should not take her to a new page...that can be disorienting (same action, different outcome!).

  • Well, it depends. Are you assuming that the 500 error lives in a different independent URL? – luchomolina Feb 25 '16 at 23:37
  • @luchomolina the workflow approach would be similar in a modal (or same-URL) context. Present the information, then show a clear next step for the user. That may be to dismiss the modal, reload the page, etc. If the user reloads the page, the behavior would be consistent with the URL of that page. So if the 500 occurred while the user was filling out a form, then a reload should still reload the form, so that there is consistency of experience. – tohster Feb 26 '16 at 1:37
  • Oh, I guess I hadn't understood your answer. Thanks. – luchomolina Mar 1 '16 at 1:39

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