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Guidelines for helping people when things go wrong

A white paper by 37signals lists 20 rules for improving contingency design - design for when things go wrong.

1. Use language your customers understand
2. Be polite
3. Offer an escape route
4. Offer customized "Page Not Found" error pages
5. Make sure the browser's "Back" button works
6. Reduce the need for constant back-and forth between different pages to fix errors
7. Use highly visible color, icons, and directions to highlight the problem
8. Don't make customers guess
9. Briefly and clearly explain what's happening
10. Don't block content with ads
11. Use smart search technology that understands common mistakes
12. Don't offer too many or inaccurate search results
13. Help log-in with tips or by emailing information
14. Offer contextual FAQs
15. Answer e-mails quickly and effectively
16. Don't force registration in order to assist customers
17. Solicit feedback on contingency design
18. Provide a fallback plan
19. Learn from mistakes
20. Plan for failure

Links:

  • The white paper Contingency Design: Maximizing Online Profitability By Helping People When Things Go Wrong Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - April 17, 2005

See also: Tips and guidelines (95)  Error handling (7) 

 

COMMENTS

I believe I read this a long time ago, is this really new?

Primarily it was an appetizer for their book which solves these issues more detailed.

Jacob B | April 23, 2005

 

Well, GUUUI isn't the news. Ancient stuff is welcome here as long as it quality stuff.

37signals' book can also be found at GUUUI.

Henrik Olsen | May 03, 2005

 

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