Was this information helpful? No. No, it wasn’t.

I was surprised from my grumpy mood into laughter the other day when I saw this error.  I was frustrated with my outlook being slow and then boom. This error.

unknown error


No explanation, they either genuinely don’t know what is wrong or don’t want to tell me what’s wrong. I must assume it’s bad news, or even worse news and they don’t want to hurt my feelings.

To make it even better, the “Was this information helpful?” link brings up a window with two options: Yes, No. (Hint: I told them No)

How can I fix the problem, or stop doing the behavior that causes the error if I don’t know what it is I’m doing wrong? In all cases, when you know what is wrong, why something is going to crash, why it’s slow, or why they can’t complete a form, tell the user. Use descriptive language and/or highlight the problem area. It may still be out of the user’s control, (say some crazy temporary mailbox on servers that keep moving around) but if they know the problem, they can find someone who can fix it.

I still don’t know why my Outlook is slow. But, at least I’ve been reminded to make all my error messages descriptive.


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