For those of us who work on interface and website copy every day, these messages seem like no big deal. We might write them quickly, without thinking about the person reading them. But for that person, those messages sometimes are a big deal. A credit card decline could be due to a mistype or expired card, but think of the worst-case scenario: What about the person who’s out of credit when they need to make a purchase? An account suspension could be an easy fix—or it could mean someone’s going to get in big trouble at work because of their mistake. Unsubscribe notifications and warnings can make people feel embarrassed, scared, or insecure.
Nobody likes receiving bad news but when it comes to delivering it in your UI, finding the right tone can soften the blow to your users a lot. In this issue of MailChimp’s UX newsletter, Kate Kiefer Lee explains how she goes about doing this following her four principles: get right to the point, save the jokes for later, stay calm and read it out loud.