Archive | June, 2011

11 June 2011 ~ 0 Comments

How Not to Write an Error Message

Or “How Not to Re-launch Your Website.”

AT&T recently unveiled their new and improved customer portal.  I’ve only been able to experience the front page though, so I’ll have to ask around as to what the rest of the experience is like.

Here’s a screenshot of my failed login attempt:

A few points of question:

  1. This error message seems to indicate that there’s a transient error with AT&T’s system.  I would like it to tell me whether or not this is a maintenance window or when I could expect to be able to login again.
  2. This error message seems to contradict the first error message.  Is there a system error as described in (1) or did I enter my password incorrectly?
  3. Which “drop down menu” should I be choosing on this page?

I’m going to guess that the people designing the site are not the people writing the error messages… that the team responsible for internationalization and localization (i.e. translating the error messages, etc.) were working off of a different specification of what the ultimate site would look like and hence the confusing language.

If this is indeed systemic, I would expect alarm bells to be going off in AT&T’s call centers for fielding more calls because the portal is busto.

Then again, years of substandard reception, dropped calls and poor call quality for their iPhone users didn’t prompt them to do anything so I’m not surprised :) (but also :( since I’m a paying subscriber!).


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