Our modern experiences have taught us to be familiar with different types of error messages. These are not always unpleasant. They’re just part of the feedback loops of our modern ecosystem. Various projects have even attempted to make this a more enjoyable experience. In Chrome you can play with a dinosaur while you wait for your internet to be restored.
If errors are normal (and they most certainly are) what is the best type of error?
I’d like to submit that the best type of errors are user errors.
Yes, people failures are the best types of failures to have.
Yesterday I was on a call where we spent 45 minutes troubleshooting an error message that we could have easily cleared out by hitting the enter key twice. We just didn’t know that at the time.
Sounds like a waste of time, right? It felt like it too.
But that’s the exact opposite of what it was. A waste of time would have no positive benefit.
Almost at once we were all in the zone of trying to get past the message. We were all in our learning framework. We activated social networks to help us troubleshoot. We were all focused on the same obstacle. It was a great unintended team building activity.
When we did discover the solution there’s not a single one of us that didn’t learn what it was. We were all in our learning mode, and the hard to find answer helped to solidify the solution in our memories.
We’re not going to do that again.
The other reason why I believe user errors are the best kind of errors is that users can be trained. In the above example we’re not going to make that same mistake again and we left notes and videos for anyone that followed us so they don’t have to learn the same lesson with the same frustrating feelings.
Equipment and software aren’t so quick to fix. There’s a logistical chain that has to be considered when addressing an equipment error. In software there’s a development chain that has to be considered. In my experience neither of these have as quick of a response of asking someone to do it differently.
What’s the best type of error? User Error.
Because users can be trained and once they are they’re changed.
So, dear reader, are you easy to train?