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.
“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.”