UX Writing Case Study: Interstitial Error Message

Wes X
2 min readMay 26, 2021

The Problem

The user works in graphic design. While critiquing a design in a mobile app, their phone abruptly turns off. When they restart the phone, they reopen the app.

The Solution

I needed to write a message that the user will read upon reopening the app. I started with the basics. What do the users need to know?

Their work was saved

They can return to the doc

They can safely go somewhere else

What steps (if any) do they need to take to recover their content?

What if they can’t recover the content?

The Constraints

Headline: 40 Characters Max

Body: 140 Characters Max

Button(s): 20 Characters Max

First Draft Issues

As usual, the first version was too verbose.

The Solution

I used the “Jobs to be Done” Method to narrow the focus on tasks. This was a stressful moment and simplicity was key.

When the app crashes…

I want to find out if my work was saved and go back to check for sure…

So I can continue working or know the edits I made are safe.

Final Version

Voice and Tone

I tried to strike a balance between “responsible” and “light & calming”. This was a potentially serious error and the user needed to be reassured in a lighthearted tone that their work was saved. This had to be done quickly and clearly without sarcasm or humor. In this context, the user could be on the verge of getting very angry at the app, so a calming tone was essential.

Also, the most important info- that the user’s draft was saved- needed to be frontloaded.

Once the user experienced relief that their work was safe, they needed clear options to move forward!

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