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Warning Notice Idea

 7:42 pm on Oct 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm lost for an idea. I want to display a warning notice to a user on a my site. Right now I have large red font and it looks very 90's

How can I display a professional fancy warning?



 8:31 pm on Oct 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

ouch! my warning notices are red and bold! i didn't realise that method was so outdated!


 11:01 pm on Oct 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

Best keep it simple, i.e. don't make people think. Red + bold = warning.


 11:54 pm on Oct 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

black and yellow diagonals ..and an H1 with blink tags ..

Ok forget I said that ..I'd never use blink either ;-)


 1:01 am on Oct 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

Warning! This site may cause seiz... oops

Large and red gets the message across. Or white on black. Sans-serif is better for this purpose than serif. Is it image or text? If you're putting up an image, apply the formatting to its container so the alt will display in the same colors. And if it is an image, you can always change the font and line spacing. Just make sure it's readable. I mean, it is a warning, right?

I assume that "a user" means the generic user who is about to do something perilous, not a specific "I don't like your face" individual ;)

Come to think of it, why are you warning them? I hope it is not one of those insulting-to-the-intelligence "You are safe and protected so long as you stay here, but other sites will expose you to unknown perils." (Facebook started showing this to my visitors after I blocked the fbexternalhotlink robot.) Or "By the way, you're about to send me your credit-card number as unencrypted plain text. Just thought I should mention it."


 7:14 am on Oct 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

Come to think of it, why are you warning them?

"This site is best viewed at ..."

(Soooo 90's :)


 8:35 am on Oct 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

Large and red is perfect. If you want to make it more slick-looking, maybe use a graphic, but keep that large and red as well. There's nothing inherently wrong with a warning that looks more dated than the rest of the site: you need it to be plain, to stand out, and to be accessible. If that means old school, then so be it.


 9:18 am on Oct 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

Well I think this proves there is a comedian in every gaggle ;)

Kiwis, I think the issue is the purpose and context of the warning. What might be considered "professional" in one context may not convey that message in another.

Also consider the meaning of red for your target audience. As Robzilla says, red + bold = danger/warning, and is commonly used on the web for that purpose so is easily recognised by most users. But in my neighbourhood of cultures red has a range of meanings - good fortune, or noble dignity or even earthiness - so red wouldn't be a appropriate for primarily local users.

As has already been said, the key is that the warning draws attention because it stands out. Keep in mind colour contrast as red is problematic for a wide range of colour vision issues. Lucy's font suggestions might be enough to freshen the look. I'd suggest avoid an image though as that may affect users of assistive technology as Rosalind has pointed out - text is more likely to be delivered to the maximum number of users. And blink. Leosghost ...! ;)


 4:14 pm on Oct 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

comedian in every gaggle

Did you just call us geese? :-)

Red and bold is like a Jungian archetype for "warning," in the same way that underlined text means hyperlinks. Don't try to re-invent the Internet. :-)


 10:55 pm on Oct 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

I use a bold sans-serif all cap in red (specifically) "DANGER"

And a one line black 150% "Explanation of the danger warning."

And add two graphics:

The traditional ! in yellow triangle and a frown-face smilie.

That said, there is only one place a user might stray where that warning occurs and, from logs, only happens once or twice a year. I do my best to make sure there are no pitfalls for my users.


 11:24 pm on Oct 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

I have been wondering about that all along. Under what circumstances would you seriously need to warn a user? There's something not quite right about "My site would like to do something that is likely have dire consequences."

OK, so I myself have a place that says, quote, "If your computer explodes, melts down, freezes, hangs or does anything else you did not want it to do, it is your problem." But that's really just the generic download disclaimer. Licensing agreements say the same thing, only in bigger words. I don't think that's what the OP was thinking of.


 4:31 am on Oct 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

I must live in a benign world - I'm thinking warnings where users fail to complete all required fields in a form (for example).

kiwis this is an interesting question - it would be great if you could provide some more information about what the warning is for - if only to satisfy our curiosity!

<begin OT>
Did you just call us geese? :-)
Well I expected back-up from Lucy's word-power, but according to g* (definitive right?), the collective noun for comedians is gaggle. (hmm .... most of us aim high, so wouldn't that make the appropriate collective noun for geese a skein? ;) )</end OT>

 11:10 am on Oct 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

Oh. Oops. I think of that as an alert. A warning is "Are you sure you want to do that?" Filling out a form is more of a "Psst! you forgot something."

It becomes a slightly different question then: How do you attract the viewer's attention to the specific place they overlooked?

Happily the answer is the same :) I think I always get red messages when I've missed something. (Generally on purpose. "They don't really require that item do they?") But if the site uses a lot of red, you might have to go to-- shudder-- something like a neon green instead.


 1:10 pm on Oct 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

Oh. Oops. I think of that as an alert. A warning is "Are you sure you want to do that?" Filling out a form is more of a "Psst! you forgot something."

It becomes a slightly different question then: How do you attract the viewer's attention to the specific place they overlooked?
Good point - and really back to kiwis to clarify.

That said, some years back I noticed a few sites using orange for alert messages on forms. (Same common method of using an asterisk/exclamation mark and an explanantion) Given red is now fairly widely accepted I thought an interesting choice as amber/orange is the warning colour for traffic lights, red only means "danger" in the Westernised parts of the culture in my neighbourhood and shades of orange aren't quite as vulnerable to vision issues. Of course I'll never know if the warnings were effective because they were orange, or because they were different from the usual red ;)


 1:33 pm on Oct 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

Colours in nature ..and thus our responses to colours, "function" as follows*..

Red is the colour of blood..hence danger..or stop at traffic lights etc..it is a "what ever it was you were doing ..stop it!"..lots of red around you usually means your own blood, and the next event is death.

Yellow and black are the colours of warning..hence wasps, bees, hornets , poisonous reptiles, amphibians etc ..the "combination" is .."this is to be avoided, messing with it is bad"..species members that dont heed this..usually experience unpleasantness , and sometimes death, and thus dont have offspring.

There are variants and exceptions to these colours and reactions..they are very very few and far between..these "signals" are not "cultural" or "learned" they are "biological" and "inherent" in virtually all "sighted species"..combinations of red with other colours means other things..red on a male robin, gets a female robins attention..it means "potential mate"..red on a male robin, gets a male robins attention ..it means "death"..

By the time an organism sees red ..it is usually too late...

Bulls do not go for red..it is the movement which annoys them..any colour cape will do the same..

Red does however slightly "intrigue" carnivores ..note ..we are omnivores ..and only 4 of our teeth ( and thus not much of our digestive system is evolved to eat more than a small amount of meat ) are evolved to deal with meat eating..

*vastly simplified..but if you are really interested in colour and perception etc..you'll do your own research ;-)), and thus realise that I've reduced it to absolute basics, and as applied to warm blooded creatures primarily

Colour deserves far far more study than it usually gets ..on or off the web.


 4:08 pm on Oct 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

Hi Leosghost, I agree that cultural norms are informed by nature, but recall nature doesn't look the same everywhere in the globe. In some near-by countries the soil is a distinctive red, so that colour is associated with sustaining life, not taking it. Cultural norms can also re-purpose colour. Blood may be universally red and therefore perceived as danger, and psychological studies show it evokes passion and increases the heart-rate whcih is one reason it is commonly associated with war. My birth-place has a ferocious warrior heritage, but red is associated with nobility/royalty and dignity which are characterised by self-control and reserve.

Our robins are grey/black with no red at all and the most common distinctive or warning colour is white or white/grey. Yellow and red are the colours of flowers on trees that are slow-growing and long-lived, including one that has such therapeutic properties we have a very lucrative high-end tourist/export market for derived products. Wasps and their "warning" yellow/black markings were introduced with European colonisation - there was no cultural knowledge of those colours as "natural" warnings pre-contact.

"Nature versus nurture" means cultures evolve, so I'm not offended by websites that use red but fail to prove they have the social rank to do so. But I do think we have to be careful about assuming any particular colour has a universally accepted meaning. Also there is a difference between users being able to switch between cultural contexts so seamlessly it isn't apparent as they interact with a site, and treating the western/Euro-centric (or any other) construct as the only and universally accepted meaning for all users/cultures.

... which really underlines your point that colour deserves far more study. Starting with the irony of using red as a warning given around 5% of the male population have vision issues that mean they can't see it ;)


 4:10 pm on Oct 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

By the time an organism sees red

My blurry first-thing-in-the-morning-after-a-late-night-eyes dropped a couple letters from the noun there and was reminded of an energetic ex girlfriend . . . <laughing amongst myself, use your imagination . . . >


 4:50 pm on Oct 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

alt131 ..you are talking "human" responses and associations..I'm referring to animal responses and associations of which "human" is but a small and socially conditionable (<= is that a word ? ;-) subcategory..that being the reason why red is "royal"..

( actually there is a school of thought that red for royal comes from warriors and fierce fighters covering themselves with their enemy's / victims blood , the bloodier being the strongest and hence the leader of the group etc )

..you do have yellow and black "warning" venomous insects , spiders, frogs and reptiles and fish etc though in your area ..their colouration is to warn other animals and birds, fish etc, whether "humans" get "it"..is upto humans ..

( we have only been around a relatively short time and as such many far longer existing species have not evolved to warn the newbie"..but to warn those with whom they have cohabited their environment for hundreds of thousands of years, or often millions of years )..

Your "robin" is in no way the same as a European "robin" it's name was given arbitrarily ..could have equally well called it a teapot and then said it had no spout and couldn't hold boiling water ;-))

..What Europeans called the flora and fauna and landscape etc of where they arrived had much more to do with trying to make themselves feel at home than taxonomy...

Flowers evolved to be seen by insect eyes ..how we perceive them is incidental to them ..except when we cultivate certain varieties because we find them "pretty"...

Males can see red .they just cant distinguish it very well when it is present with other tonally equivalent colours..and their mind is usually easily distracted to the basic biological drives ..rocknbil ( who knows more about colour than he'll let on ;-) being an example of how easily people see what their "hind brain" wants to see ( the ad industry uses this to great effect on and off the web )..and act accordingly..

red soil..colour of life? ..yes certainly ..but only in matriarchal societies..and the reasons for that association are interesting and completely valid ..but given the audience here , detailed public discussion would be likely to draw protests..due to cultural conditioning ;-)

Interesting how "on topic", what might be considered "off topic" frequently really is


 8:24 pm on Oct 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

Er, are you postulating a relationship between the mineral content of the soil in a given region, and the role of the sexes in the traditional political structure of the said region? That's a new one on me, I must say :o

A few posts back, a distinction was made between "red" and "orange". That's recent and language-specific. Consider red hair, red foxes, red flames etc-- all of those are what we would today call "orange", but the descriptors originated before the color name came into use. (The specific realm of color terminology has been pretty exhaustively studied.* It's got very little to do with either the color wheel you learned in school, or the six colors of a computer.)

If the predominant color in the environment is green, red stands out. Some cities now use yellow or light green for emergency vehicles because in an urban environment they are more visible.

If you are filling out a text area on line, the ambient colors are-- I hope-- primarily black and white. That means any bright color will draw your attention. Computer blue is not very bright. Red is. Green can be actively painful: the counterpart to #F00 is not #0F0 but something more like #090.

* There exists a German dissertation on Homeric color terminology: xanthos and chl˘ros and so on. I'm sure it is extremely interesting, but I never had the energy to read it.

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