UX Writing Challenge Day Three: Wrong Email

Day three of the UX writing challenge. Here we go.

Scenario: The user entered the wrong email address to sign in to their account.
Challenge: Tell the user to enter the right email.

Error Message: 40 characters max

UX Challenge Solution

That email address isn’t in our system.

UX Challenge Scenario Reflection

40 characters?!?! That’s like nothing. Every time that I tried to inject a little personality, the character counter began to scream at me.
As I started working with different options, I found myself reworking a few words that all meant the same thing, and they all felt a little more robotic each time.

I did a little digging online to see what Nielsen and NN/G had to say. NN/G is the world leader in research-based user experience work and, their website has a ton of great resources. The post I came across was about error message guidelines and went pretty deep. The only issue was, all of the examples were 40 characters plus.

I also came across another interesting article on Stack Overflow that talked about error messages and some of the security concerns about language. The article was pretty informative, as well.

One of the comments in the thread had this to say.

The easiest and most common phrase to use is:

“You have entered an invalid username or password”

The reasoning behind this is to prevent someone from trying to brute force your account by ‘guessing’ the password. If the attacker gets an error detailing the password is incorrect, then they could try different passwords until getting it right.

However, if you provide a generic message like the one above, the attacker doesn’t know if the user, password or combination of both is correct or not.

What are your thoughts on error messages?