Friday, September 14, 2007

New age web messages

The new age web sites/applications (the so called web 2.0) have all evolved for good and one of the many things which have changed for good is the copy writing for error message or in that case any message. I think it’s the advent of blogging which made the web world change the attitude towards its communication to users. They chose to speak the human language as the new web considers the users as an integral part of their growth. Most of the services go live and is thrown open to users before being steady and the developers fine tune the performance according to the user’s feedback. There are more instances of the services being down every now and then but what I have noticed is that, the users have become calm. And its only coz the users are made to know what exactly is the reason behind the downtime. It’s all about transparency. You let your users know what’s happening with you and they will be ready to help you out if you are in need. The better you explain the more they understand.

Even old websites used to give out simple and understandable messages before but they used to be very formal. Now the language has become more informal and more personal and it works. It helps to keep the situation light and in control. And it also shows how much you care for the users.

I think it all started with Gmail. A message which says “Hooray no spam here” was a big surprise for me at first. Even though I liked it, I used to wonder why they kept it like that. Then when I started seeing messages like “Grr something went wrong with the connection, try sending the mail again” I started feeling comfortable rather than getting irritated. I liked the way Gmail spoke my language.

Cleartrip is one of my favorite sites and their message copy is outstandingly human. Once their site was not loading and I got this

And once my flight booking failed to go through

Oh this message from Squirl, once when i tried to upload an image actually made me laugh

But of course the weird ones just refuse to go away. I got this message when I tried to disconnect my internet connection.

I think it’s high time all of us understood the importance of good and more human copy writing in application development. It’s just a simple attitude change from our side which is needed to achieve a better user experience. Recently a developer friend of mine and I were browsing through Google reader and suddenly we saw the message “Grr something has gone wrong”. He said
Hmm if I put Grr into my error message I will be told to take it out immediately saying its not good. But if google says the same, its great communication.
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