Validating point of cause
Yes, they can (and should) be minimized, but validation errors won’t ever be eliminated – they are a natural part of complex forms and user’s data input.
During our mobile commerce study this subject first entered her phone number but included spaces which provoked a validation error.
While this should not cause a validation error at all, the error message itself should at the very least tell the user what the problem is.
In this case, the subject thought she might need to add a country code, but that also did not work (middle image).
), and address (street number in address line 1 or 2? When benchmarking the checkout process of 100 major e-commerce sites, we found that most form validation error messages are woefully generic.
This is problematic because it doesn’t do much in way of helping the user understand what the error is and how to fix it.
Generic error messages tend to run the spectrum from unhelpful to completely useless.For instance, during benchmarking we saw the ‘Phone’ field yield error messages such as: The first error message is obviously the worst as it offers zero help as to why the input isn’t accepted – it just states that the site doesn’t consider it “valid”.The second error message is still pretty bad, in that it just says the input isn’t a “valid US phone number” but it doesn’t hint at why that might be.The third error message is better than the others because it not only states that it must be a US phone number but also indicates that a country code, spaces, or other formatting, will cause the validation to fail even if it actually is a legit US phone number.However, even though the third error message is the best of the generic error messages, our usability tests showed that it is still far from ideal because it doesn’t show the user what the actual problem is.Without any indication of what the actual error is, the user will basically have to do all the work figuring this out themselves.