Status and alerts overview

The Summit Design System uses status and alert components to highlight urgent information about systems, programs or services that may impact users. The alert banners show pressing and high signal messages and may even prompt the users to take action.

With numerous information to process on a regular basis, and some being unexpected, users get overwhelmed and may also increase the chance of missing them out.  The banners need to be incredibly effective and grab a visitor's attention without interfering with the rest of your website content. Also as the pandemic situation stretched on, there came an increasing awareness on alert fatigue.

Hence this research was conducted to revisit the components, evaluate current principles and trends and update the global guidelines so that alerts are optimized and keep people in the know.

Component data

Component resources:
SCSS files | coc-card-item.js

Alert styles demo

Label title



Responsive preview

The use case

Alert banners (also known as notification banners/site alerts/page alerts/critical alerts) keep users informed of important and sometimes time-sensitive changes. Alerts may just notify users on an information or may require users to respond.

They stand out from other contents on the site and prominently display the critical, time-sensitive warnings or directions across every page so that the users see it whenever they visit the site. Using the same site alert treatment, helps create a consistent and predictable way for users to find urgent information across the site.

When to use this component

Telling people important and typically time sensitive information. This includes:

  • Success messages
  • Error messages
  • Warnings
  • Important pieces of information
  • System statuses

When not to use this component

  • In-line error validation on form inputs. Use an error message or error summary instead 
  • Popular content on your website
  • Highlighting content, quotes, examples, snippets of information. Use a callout instead

Alert fatigue

As the pandemic situation stretches on, there is an increasing awareness of “alert fatigue.” People become less receptive to alerts and warning messages the more often they see them.

Researches have been done in this area to identify potential solutions for carefully managing the alert life-cycle.

Another aspect to consider is inattentional blindness or perceptual blindness. It occurs when an individual fails to perceive an unexpected stimulus in plain sight, purely as a result of a lack of attention rather than any vision defects or deficits

Things to keep in mind:

  • Alerts should be temporary (the time is very subjective and will depend on variables like business requirement, frequency of site visit, severity of the situation, etc.)
  • They should be short and simple
  • Different alerts for different types of situations- choose the right type
  • Limit the number
  • Consider how the banner may need to change over the course of a crisis. Including dates in the design can indicate when an alert has been issued, updated, or resolved, so visitors are assured they are getting the latest information. And after a crisis, you may want the banner to announce that the emergency is over, using cooler colors to indicate that the situation is now less urgent.
  • limit the number of alerts used across pages:
    • use at impacted points of service or information delivery, such as service initiation pages, contact pages, etc.
    • avoid beyond service or information delivery points - on theme and topic pages, consider using a new doormat instead
  • save alerts for significant situations that impact most users:
    • on the home page, only use when more than 50% of the population is affected
    • on institutional landing pages, only use when more than 40% of users are impacted
  • Remove them once the purpose is solved


Make sure you have supervisors approval to publish  any site-wide alert banner 

Ensure message is communicated clearly through the alert title as well as the description and not rely entirely on the icon or the colour.

Keep the title and description clear and concise so users understand why the information is important and the action(s) to take.

Include the alert type prior to the title i.e. "Warning", "Caution" or "Success".

Use different icons as a visual cue for each alert type so users can quickly identify the alert type.

Place alerts inline with the related content such as form fields.

Guide the user towards a next step with a call to action button if there are any to be taken.


Do not publish a site-wide alert banner without supervisors approval

Do not use the wrong alert banner for the alert type as this can confuse users.

Do not use too many calls to actions or links, which can distract or confuse users.

Do not use too many global alerts on a page. This can confuse users about which information is more important.

Do not keep global alerts on your site for too long. Users who don't notice changes will learn to disregard banners over time.