The reason I believe it is important to have an apologetic tone is to ensure you are communicating to the user that, though a mistake has been made and he is interacting with a machine or application in this case, you still respect his action and are humanizing the mistake.
To quote this article from UXMatters:
“You’re going to display your error message ...
While Mervin's answer is excellent, I would go beyond saying it is "acceptable" or "preferred". I would say you "must" use an apologetic tone for one very good reason: if the user is making a mistake, it is because the user does not understand the rules or logic of the system. That is not the fault of the user! It is responsibility of the system to ...
If a user doesn't have permission to access a particular item of
content, I would suggest not displaying it at all.
If the user needs to know that content they don't have access to
exists - show them the content in a different form and provide them
with a way of enquiring about how to gain access if necessary.
Eg. as a content list (rather than semi ...
To provide several channels of feedback:
haptic: "I feel the key has been pressed",
optic: "I see the key change its color" and
auditive: "I hear the system felt that I pressed the key".
The change in the graphic interface is the effect of this action, and thus an additional, indirect form of feedback.
Why should different channels be provided at once?
It's just a matter of costs and resources.
In germany for example it's really common these days to get:
approximate waiting time in minutes
news regarding other products to keep you "busy" and maybe sell you something else
In my opinion companies still underestimate the impact of waiting time when calling. If you frustrate customers or even worse ...
You want your users to use your service. Your users want to use the service but they need to invest first (i.e. time to upgrade their browser).
First of all be nice and show an empathic message, e.g. like Apple does if you run a browser that's not supported by iCloud
Tell them why it's worth investing the time (list benefits, preview what they can ...
I'd like to take @lazer's suggestion a step further.
Why not add a small padlock icon after each of the links the user does not have permission to?
Then, if the user would hover the link, I would show them a tooltip explaining that they don't have permission to view the page contents.
Taking a step back: Why was this feature made available (visible) to the user in the first place?
If it is a feature not available to a specific user (or user class), hide it.
If it is a premium feature that you'd like to upsell - do so.
History export is a great way to backup your data, but is available on premium accounts only. Get in touch with your ...
Remember 0.1, 1.0, and 10 seconds...
You have about 1 second to show something whether that be the finished result or an indicator that the computer is working (usually some type of spinner)
Not doing anything for 1 whole second after a user initiates an action can still make an application feel sluggish (as noted in the comments below) so I like to ...
Updated Answer - March 2013
Since this answer was posted on November 2012, Google has discontinued this plugin. While it might still work as of today (March, 2014) there is no guarantee of it working in the future. As of January 2014, support for Chrome Frame is discontinued:
Let them know what has happened. Here are some situations with longer, clear example notifications that use proper English grammar:
Only the name changed
The task "foobar" has been successfully renamed to "dummy".
Only the data changed
The task "foobar" has been successfully updated.
The name and the data changed
The task "foobar" has been ...
The fewer words the better, and no words at all are better than negative words.
Don't say why you think there might be a problem, or even that you think there is likely to be a problem. Instead just make it easy for them to contact you in the event that they do happen to come across a problem.
I quite liked an experience I had recently at surfdome where it ...
On clicking the save button in almost any application for the first time, you are asked where to save the file. If your application does not do this, it would be understandable that people are unsure as to whether it has worked or not.
My advice would be to grey out the icon and replace the icon with a spinner while the save operation is taking place. Even ...
Answer "No". "Successfully" can be removed:
Joel Spolsky covered this issue very well here:
The basic rule of thumb is that:
"In fact, users don't read anything.
This may sound a little harsh, but you'll see, when you do usability tests, that there are quite a few users who simply do ...
Just because your brand color is red doesn't make the use of red for errors obsolete, it's just a matter of extent.
Take the Viaplay signup form for example:
Viaplay has red as their main accent color, which is used throughout the website for actions buttons, icons, header, graphic elements etc.. however, in the form they do tone down the use. They don't ...
You might want to briefly try explaining the value of upgrading, while promoting the action with positive language, and demoting the negative action with not exactly negative language, but just less positive.
You also need to provide information for those who are unable to upgrade (for example corporate restrictions may prevent use of anything except IE6), ...
If you are displaying a percentage, it's best to label it as a percentage. The % doesn't have to be the same size or as dark even as the main number, but is gives a lot more clarity at a low cost. In fact, any number without units is meaningless unless it actually has no units.
In many cases the best message is no message ;)
Is there the expectation of success? In these cases the only time a user wants to see a message is when something's gone wrong. Take file deletion in Windows. After the "Are you sure?" question has been answered there's no further message unless the file couldn't be deleted for some reason.
Is there any other ...
I don't find apologies very humanizing from a computer, any more than an automated hold system for a phone network makes me feel like my call is important by saying, "Your call is very important to us! Please stay on the line for the next available representative."
I don't think the apologies are the main issue here. Far more important is that they are ...
Yes, always show your units. As my maths teacher used to say:
The problem is that people are used to seeing the percentage symbol with percentages. Therefore, it is in fact conspicuous by it's absence. That makes people think and the point is to make a UI where people don't have to think - at least not where they really don't need ...
You could do what this GIANT Austrailian company did and charge an extra "tax" for old browsers in compensation for having to support them
'It appears you or your system administrator has been in a coma for over 5 years and you are still using IE7.' It begins, before going on to break the news about the costs. 'To help make the internet a ...
Very practical reasons:
It is worth more investing money in actually fixing the wait times (i.e. hiring more personnel), than investing in infrastructure that needs to be maintained/connected to provide all this information.
Companies are not interested in keeping people on the line. They want each interaction to be as cheap as possible, and want to keep ...
I think red is pretty much the convention in this context so you should use red for errors that need to be fixed before you can move on/send the form. Yellow is in general for warnings (eg. user perhaps should/could improve something, but it does not stop from proceeding). Yellow can be used with for example with one of those password strength thingies where ...
Disable the submit button as soon as it's been pressed and show a message (or similar) to indicate the action is being processed. Disabling the button prevents repeat clicking and feedback lets the user know that something is happening.
Sometimes it can seem a bit like the feedback comes back too quickly, and users can feel more comfortable if they see a ...
Yes, error messages should apologize when it's plausible to do so. People will ascribe human emotions to computers, so the computers should be polite, particularly to users who expect people to be polite.
For example, websites designed for the elderly would benefit from very polite messages both
to show that the site and not the user is at fault
As you've stated, it's important that the user is provided with feedback about the success / failure of the save operation.
One way that some business applications achieve this is by disabling the save button when the most recent version of a file has been safely saved to disk.
User clicks save.
File is saved.
Button is dimmed / non-clickable -> this ...
State the problem, simply, then explain the problem - simply.
This action results in a circular reference.
A circular reference is where the action uses information that depends
on the action itself.
Microsoft Excel kind of does this but in a typically verbose manner:
Although it may make sense to explicitly state what operation was invalid, ...
There is a very simple rule that I use for myself: Error messages must not display error messages, they must display a solution message.
The user does not care what is wrong and why, he simply wants the issue solved.
In general, using only color to indicate information is bad for accessibility reasons. Red/green colorblindness is the most common and occurs in 8% of males. Using an icon, like an X or warning sign, is the best way to go.
If you must differentiate color for business reasons (i.e. people at the top think it should be a different color), then pick one that ...
TLDR; A time based message (timestamp, declarative sentence, or both) in the pull to refresh tray assists user understanding of the age of data shown in the feed. New items available to pull can be indicated with a visual counter.
Example: Tweetbot has executed their pull to refresh in a useful, informative way.
The time based message is always shown as ...