Microsoft : Simplifying Websites and their Errors


website errorWe learned simplification. We learned in math that simplifying 6/8 becomes 3/4. Yet who would have thought that this math trick would become so important in the tech industry. Everybody from Apple and Twitter to Microsoft and Facebook have realized that products and services must be significantly friendlier lest they daze the average consumer. But how do you go about simplifying something as frustrating as a website error … you get friendlier.

In this post, we will focus on what Microsoft is doing to make websites a bit clearer and friendlier.

simplifying websites errors

imageIt takes some creativity to turn an error into a positive consumer experience. By being friendly and frank, this Xbox websites can convey the error without being technical. Long gone are the “HTTP: 440: Error. Server Application could not be found.” error messages.



Long gone are the days when users are left behind to wonder how to continue their searches… as user, you are left a bit in a daze when a “No results found” screen appears. Luckily websites ( such as this Microsoft Search website) redirect to Bing so the user can continue with their query in hand.

skydrive article2

Errors are common. Software often is very error prone because constantly-changing APIs and incompatible software or resources. In the example above, SkyDrive clearly and quickly communicates which files are proving problematic.

simplifying websites themselves

It’s one thing to simplify errors… but that the real meat of the imageequation is simplifying the actual website… making navigation simple and intuitive and using familiar objects and familiar UI to help people find their way across a site.


When you need to accomplish a task, the website clearly tells you what you need to do and what exactly is going on. In addition, the message will inform the user of what their following input will do to their task.image

In this example, the SkyDrive navigation UI could have used many names to point out the navigation. Instead it chooses friendly names such as “ Recent Docs” “Photos of You” and so on… this gives the user the info it needs without him/her to browse a dictionary.


Notice that we are not seeing a century-old BIOS-like dialog box… instead the user is greeted by a pleasing dialog message that clearly and in a friendly way conveys what exactly is going on… whew!!!.. on less thing to yell at.


About Juan Balcazar

Writer. That's what i do. :)

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