User Experience Failure: “Please check the Log For More Information.”

Asking your users, especially new users, to check a “log” for more information about a problem, especially an installation problem, is like slapping them in the face. Why do developers do it?

I understand that there are unexpected problems with software. But, asking an end user to look at the file is putting the burden of doing software support on them, rather than the software producer. Sure, there are some basic things a user might troubleshoot.

If so, put them in the UI. Not in some crappy log file they’ll need to sift through. Expose the errors as actions and things to try.

Here’s a great example of this going wrong; it is a double slap in this case:


The image says:

“Hi, we have released an update to Seesmic Desktop 2. Version Release Date: 9/9/2010.”


“The application could not be updated. Please check the log for more information.”

Dang, bad on two accounts:

  1. They’re asking me to look at a log to try to troubleshoot a problem with their software. It’s not likely to be helpful, otherwise they should have surfaced the information directly into the UI.
  2. It doesn’t tell me where the log file might be located.

I took a different approach to solving the problem. I right clicked on the application, and this menu was shown:


I selected Remove this application.

As I was curious about the new version, I went to and selected to start the installation. Seesmic Desktop 2 worked. Many users aren’t that patient.

As developers and user experience designers, etc., we can do better.