Offer solutions, not roadblocks.

I just found a great example within Microsoft Outlook (Mac version) that demonstrates well the idea of offering solutions rather than roadblocks.

This morning I received an update to a meeting that I had not initially responded to, there were some conflicts so a few alerts appeared on the invite.

The alert message reads:

“This is an update to a recurring meeting that you have not responded to. To respond to this meeting, first respond to the original invitation.”

Like most everyone, I get about 100+ items in my inbox per day.
I may have received this invitation weeks or even months ago, so the original lies buried somewhere in my inbox.  I’m stuck, presented with a roadblock rather than a solution, and forced to manually search through my inbox to find the original.

Rather than make this the user’s problem – the application should leverage information Outlook already has. Why not include a link to the original invitation, that way the user is not forced to think or labor to locate something the computer can find in an instant.

Suggested correction: 

“This is an update to a recurring meeting that you have not responded to. To respond to this meeting, click here to view the original meeting.”

Below is a shot showing the original, and my suggestion.Bad-usability-dead-end

 

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