General Notes

Avoid reset buttons.

Adjust settings on the server to allow for common typos and misspellings for URLs (for example, ww instead of www). Setup wildcard domains (*

Eliminate extraneous navigation elements during a multi-step process such as a checkout or registration.  Avoid distracting the user.

Study customer support inquiries

Solicit feedback.

Analyze server logs

Look outside for help

Put someone in charge

Build a contingency design knowledgebase (track issues and solutions)

Prepare to fail (admit things will go wrong)


Indicate availability immediately

If unavailable, provide a backup plan.

Notify by email when in stock

Search Engines

Plan for imperfect searchers

Study previous search results to identify problems

If the search returns an avalanche of results, offer means of narrowing results.

If no results return, offer an easy way to expand results

Explain how search works, and give examples and tips.


Indicate required fields with an asterisk and/or include 'required' or 'optional' next to each field.

Indicated required field titles in bold.

Provide formatting examples for data

Provide pulldowns or lists to ensure accurate data.

Use Javascript to disable buttons once they are clicked (have them fade out or change the text on the button).

Offer contextual help right on the form.

Edit copy so that it is brief and meaningful; use bullet points, not blocks of text.

Custom 404 Pages

Include the company's name and logo.

Include an explanation of why the visitor is seeing the page

A list of common mistakes that explain the problem

Links back to the home page and/or relevant pages

A search engine to help find the right information

An email link for visitors to report errors/problems

Acknowledgement Emails

Use tracking numbers as a reference

Provide a clear and accurate subject line

Explain what to do next if the issue is unresolved

Sign the email.

Crisis Points

Lead with a clear heading and the most critical information

Offer bullet points, not blocks of text

Use bold red text and colour variations to highlight crucial information

Edit copy so that it is brief and meaningful.


Clearly state the error at the top of the page and the problem area to be corrected.

Indicate where problems are with bold red text

Draw attention to the problem with an alert icon or graphical cue

Offer possible solutions to the problem.

Do not force visitors to retype data correctly; accept alternative formats.

Accept all valid data and only ask for problem info (do not send them back to the same form).

Be consistent in all error messages.

Bibliographical Information

By Matthew Linderman, published in New York by New Riders in 2004.

ISBN: 0-7357-1410-X

These are notes I made after reading this book. See more book notes

Just to let you know, this page was last updated Tuesday, May 28 24