What to Write in an Error Message
When an undesirable action occurs in a system, an error message can let people know there's something wrong. This is an opportunity to leave something helpful and/or funny. A username or password error message can be helpful or just annoying. Error messages can be important tools for site and app navigation.
What to Include in an Error Message
Include these in an error message for users:
- A friendly tone
- A clear explanation of what happened
- Options for the user
- Links for navigation or help
- Images to help explain what happened
- Search box
- Phone number or chat help link
General Error Message Examples
- "Error: Invalid input. Please check your data and try again."
- "Oops! Something went wrong. Please try again later or contact support for assistance."
- "An unexpected error has occurred. Please refresh the page or try again later."
- "Error: Access denied. You do not have permission to view this page or perform this action."
- "The server is currently unavailable. Please try again later or contact support for assistance."
- "Invalid username or password. Please check your credentials and try again."
- "Error: File not found. Please make sure the file exists and try again."
- "There was a problem processing your request. Please try again later or contact support for assistance."
- "Error: Connection lost. Please check your internet connection and try again."
- "An unknown error has occurred. Please try again later or contact support for assistance."
- "Something went wrong and you've found our error page. Please select one of the options below."
- "We’re sorry, something must have gone wrong. Please try back at a later time."
- "We are experiencing some unexpected technical difficulties. Feel free to notify us of the problem so that we can fix it."
- "No need to panic, but something has gone wrong. We’ll look into it and work on a solution. Sorry for the inconvenience."
- "If you’re reading this message, then something must be broken. We’re sorry that you’ve experienced a problem, please check back soon to see if the problem has been resolved."
- "An error has occurred. Please contact the tech support help desk to notify them of the issue."
Funny Error Messages
- You must be a website archaeologist! You found our secret hidden page.
- If you are reading this message, then it means a human error has occurred. Discard the current malfunctioning part and replace it with a competent replacement.
- Warning! An error has occurred between the keyboard and the chair. Please remove the defective part.
- An error has occurred. Self destruction will begin in ten seconds.
- What did you do? You messed everything up and broke it. There’s nothing that can be done now. Way to go you fool. What were you thinking?
- We hope you saved your work because you just messed up something really badly. If not, you can start all over in a few moments.
- If you’re able to read this message there is no hope. All that’s left for you to do now is scream and run around in a panic.
- Well, now you’ve done it. It’s all your fault and there’s nothing that can fix it. You broke it for good.
- You were right about these dang computers being evil, and now they've got you right where they want you.