Challenge 11 of 52: Error Handling in RoketSMS

As a designer, we usually fall trap into two kind of oversight. First, what we thought was important is not important to the users. Secondly, things that we thought will not go wrong will go wrong in the hands of the user.
I think I’ve sorted out the first oversight last week so this week I’ll drill down the second oversight. As the designer of the web app it seems really obvious that the message limit is 160 characters and you need a valid phone number to send the message to. So, during my tests I skip over these two scenario.
Then come real users and the errors crops up. The problem is that error message given by the system is unhelpful. The error is the same no matter what causes them – either a crashed database or simply an invalid phone number. This causes distress to customers especially since they stand to lose precious SMS credits.
The top two error is that the message is too long and invalid number. There’s two ways to manage errors; first is to prevent the error from happening and secondly give more helpful information. One is proactive while the later is more reactive.
Preventing the first error is straight forward. Just put a character counter and disable the send button once the limit is crossed. For the time being I ask users to check character count at http://www.charactercountonline.com/

For the second error, a delivery report function should be implemented. This will help users to identify the faulty record and delete it.

Another week, another challenge completed. I think I’m going to look into food & beverages in the coming weeks.

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