Humane error messages
Firefox’s error messaging is a beautiful piece of anthropomorphic design. ”Well, this is embarrassing…”. You immediately want to make it feel better, to put your arm on its shoulder, ”don’t worry about it Firefox, its not that big a deal”. Such a contrast to the usual obnoxious dialog that either shows no remorse of pity whatsoever (“Operation failed, start again”), or even blames you (“you closed me down with 5 tabs still open fool!”).
Think about what we currently tolerate. Imagine if you took the time to carefully fill in a paper form and took it to the service desk only to have the person behind the counter bark “invalid phone number format!”, throw it back in your face and slam the window shut? You’d be furious. You’d complain. You’d go somewhere else next time. Yet, we suffer this on a daily basis online. Trying to buy something from some sites is like ordering from the Soup Nazi, and you’re trying to give them money!
The fact that this kind of message is the exception rather than rule says a lot about where we are in the way we interact with virtual environments, and how far we’ve got to go…