Interface problems donating online

We’re in the throws of what feels like an endless project trying to improve on what should be a relatively simple donation form for Web Foundation. I’ve been pushing hard to work through the convoluted error messages that we’re getting back from the API we need to work with simply because running into a problem when you’re trying to give someone money is just about the last thing you need.

My first reaction when I see the following message is to question the security of the form and wonder if my information is safe

Error: there was a problem processing your request.

First of all the word “error” should be relegated to a technical issue, not a user issue. User’s don’t make errors, they miss things. You may do something in error, but your action is not an error. That’s what computers do. They error. Which usually means they’re broken. Which usually means your data isn’t safe.

And what is a “request”. User’s don’t make requests on the Web, they provide information. “processing a request” is something a computer does and it’s convoluted language for someone trying to donate money.

With that in mind, if there is a problem, we’re going to say something along these lines:

There was a problem completing your donation. Please ensure the required information noted below is filled in correctly.

I’m sure it’s a pain on the development side to try to work with an unforgiving API to adjust these things, but I couldn’t agree more that words are the soul of UX, and it’s nice to see yesterday’s post on celebrating this.