Actionable Optimisation

Actionable Optimisation #33 – Using Better Error Messages to Improve Customer Experience

 December 28, 2020

By  Will

Improve the Customer Experience with Better Error Messages

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It happens. No matter how well you plan and prepare, error messages occur.

Sometimes its your fault, sometimes its the customers fault.

But either way, it’s your responsibility to ensure that messaging is clear and the customer knows what to do, or what to expect next, as quickly and easily as possible.

That means:

  • Be specific with your error messages. If someone's login details are incorrect, let them know if its the email, username or password. There’s nothing more frustrating than running a password reset to find out that the email address is wrong (and normally thats just by never receiving the password reset).
  • Identify all errors at the same time. If your site visitor has made errors in several form fields, highlight them all at the same time. It’s incredibly frustrating fixing an error and clicking submit to find out that you’ve made another error on the same page.
  • Don’t remove inputted data! Definitely don’t make users fill out details again after a submission, you’re causing more friction and anxiety, and just making it more likely you’ll lose this person as a potential customer, and possible turn them into a detractor as well.
  • If an error is related to the quality of input, explain why it can’t be accepted and what is missing. If your password requirement is a capital letter, a number, and a special character, let the customer know which ones they’ve missed out and are still required.

There are so many things you can do with error messages to make the customer experience better, and in some cases even aid the experience. Treat them as little tips, or steps to completion that you might find in a video game.

These shouldn’t be ‘error messages’ that are put in place by the product team to ensure site visitors can’t progress without valid data, they should be tips and advice to help your visitors complete the process.

Make it easy, reduce anxiety, and you’ll see better conversion rates and happier customers.


Will is a Customer Journey Marketing consultant, specialising in CRO, CRM and Customer Experience. Will has over 7 years experience working across a range of consumer facing businesses and has worked for huge brands such as MyVoucherCodes, Europcar, JackpotJoy, Virgin Games and Virgin Bet.


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