Suggest corrections to errors

Example of a "no search results" message with a suggestion to the typo
Image description: A website titled, "Search for animals" with a highlighted searcher that says, "Felly jish." Below the message says, "0 search results. Did you mean jelly fish?"

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Why This is Important

It is natural for people to make mistakes and cause errors, since we are all human. Suggesting corrections to the errors is accessible to people with cognitive disabilities because the cause of the error might not be obvious to them.

Identifying errors to users is the first essential step to accessibility. Suggesting corrections to errors is the next level of support. This is especially helpful to people with cognitive disabilities because they might not understand the nature of the error, and the suggestions can help them correct it.

If the suggestions are known and they don’t pose a security risk, then it’s important to communicate them to the user. Suggestions might be unknown if the system cannot recognize the nature of the error beyond “invalid input.” It might pose a security risk if the error is the password or some other input for their unique login.

This references WCAG criterion 3.3.3 Error Suggestion (Level AA).

How to Implement This

Writing Effective Error Messages

Writing plays a significant role in accessible error messaging. UX World recommends the following 11 tips for writing a good error message:

  1. Be Clear And Not Ambiguous
  2. Be Short And Meaningful
  3. Don’t Use Technical Jargon
  4. Be Humble — Don’t Blame User
  5. Avoid Negative Words
  6. Give Direction to User
  7. Be Specific And Relevant
  8. Avoid Uppercase Text
  9. Provide Appropriate Actions
  10. Use Progressive Disclosure Approach
  11. Use Proper Placement

Here are some other resources on writing effective error messages:

Keep in mind that there may be some variations between your error messaging and others because of the tone and voice of your brand (i.e. if you’re more serious and formal, or if you’re more playful and casual). As long as the message is still clear, understandable, and actionable, then it is accessible!

Error Detection and Suggestion

Actually being able to systematically detect errors and suggest corrections requires an error detection algorithm

This section is incomplete and could use more support. If you are interested, please fill out the form below!

How to Test This

This requires manual testing. Enter invalid content into the user inputs. Evaluate the error messaging for their suggestions.


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