Every now and then, your Internet search comes up against a message that reads something like “HTTP 404 Error”. This may happen when the page you searched for had its link changed, moved, or it simply cannot be found on the server. Or, it may have been removed altogether; maybe you have even typed the wrong URL. Whatever the reason is, you have lost your way on the Internet highway and a 404 error message is the way of letting you know.
Just in case you haven’t encountered a message like this before, you could try this: type the URL of any website and follow the ‘/’ at the end with a string of gibberish. Such errors are inevitable; broken links, unchanged URLs, and many other reasons can cause your site to throw up a 404 error. This is likely to be real annoying to the visitor, and will make him want to move away from your site. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. You can design the 404 error page with a little care so that it will spark some interest or amusement in the visitor, thus causing their mouse to linger a bit more on your website. Said amusement can leave a nice memory, and might make them want to return again sometime later.
Thus, it makes sense to design an error page with some amount of care. Redirecting a visitor, helping him take forward his search or merely bringing a smile to his face will go a long way in ensuring repeat visits. Some imaginative ways in which 404 error pages have been designed in some websites are highlighted in the examples that follow.
Maxemail, formerly Email Center UK, offers email marketing services. On the website, you will understand that email marketing is not simply an exercise in list building. The error page of this website has the Development Team members pointing fingers at each other as to who should be fired for the gaffe. You will also be shown the way home with a link to the homepage.
This professional tennis player’s off-court humor is visible in the 404 page of his website. He asks visitors if they are looking for lost balls. You are then guided back to the menu.
This is the website of David Barton, an artist. The 404 page is witty and set out in the form of a classified advertisement, with the ‘File not Found’ legend finding a place in the slot usually reserved for a contact phone number.
This is the website of a French creative studio that does design, both in print and digital versions. The error page informs you that the angels have the phone box. Although, you can access the menu from this page and find your way back home.
Incore is a digital marketing agency. Their 404 page is a tease featuring the picture of two ominous vultures and asking lost visitors if they are really looking for them or if they would like to be returned home.
On this website, one can keep tabs on the happenings in the world of androids. The 404 page on this website admonishes you for the lack of navigation skills that brought you to the error page in the first place.
Foxrate offers a free browser based application for collating customer reviews from various sales channels. A little dog peeps through the ‘0’ in the 404, to tell you that no fox can be found on the error page.
Agens is in the business of having bright digital ideas and turning it into working products. They have an astronaut lost in space, wandering about and carrying a 404 flag. The caption suggests that you take a look at recent projects.
Bored Panda is a community for creative people. It has sections on art, photography and design. A panda swears on the 404 page that he has not eaten up the pages you are looking for. Advertisements are carried on the right, and the menu remains on top of the page.
Podcasts go out from this website and track lists are featured here. This 404 page takes a dig and calls you a douche bag and takes pride in being featured in the Smashing Magazine.
Captain Dash is a website that offers data management services. An app helps to convert all the boring data into meaningful information. The error page is quite simple, and asks you if are looking for Captain Dash backstage. You can send them an email from this page or go back to the homepage.
Odd Pears sells creatively designed quality socks. Simply put, these are beautifully mismatched socks that express individuality. The 404 error page shows a sock swearing, after breaking a hole at the big toe and scaring you into believing that you broke their website.
Espry describe themselves as artists, creators and visionaries of the digital world. Their 404 page has a cute dog looking confused and wearing a lost expression, with a call to action button advising the visitor to go home.
Petfinder is a website that helps lost animals find a home that will adopt them. You can apply search criteria and find a pet to adopt on their homepage. If you get lost doing this, you will see a cat caught up in knitting wool or a beaked friend screeching at you, and you will be guided back to the homepage. The menu, posts and the call to action buttons in the sidebar are carried in the error page as well.
CloudSigma is a Cloud storage facility. If you lose your way in this website, you will get to meet their junior developer. He is, in fact, a cat that sleeps on the couch for the most part, but still finds time to do some coding.
Bitly is a URL shortener and link management platform. A fish floating upside-down in the error page gives you an indication that something is wrong here. Helpful information about URLs is also given on this page.
As you may have guessed, FlixelPix is a website dedicated to photography. The web page fully displays the error message, with a suggestion to search. Meanwhile, a helpful search box is right there at hand.
Swissmiss is the design studio of Tina Roth. In her error page, she is seen through a hole in the canvas telling visitors to launch a search from there or to go back to the homepage.
Woothemes is the go-to place to purchase WordPress themes and plugins. They are the authors of the popular WooCommerce plugin. A ninja with a broken sword lets you know you have landed on their error page, and a prominent search box helps you continue your search.
Studio7 designs mobile applications and responsive user interfaces. A silhouette of a bear lets you know you have come to the wrong place.
Spoon Graphics is the blog of Chris Spooner who helps others to create cool designs. The creativity is evident in his error page, which appears as if you have tuned into a television at the wrong frequency and prompts you to call an engineer to fix it. Or, you can opt to move back to the homepage or archives.
Out of Comfort Zone
Out of Comfort Zone is the blog of Frederic Harper, a techie and a serial entrepreneur. He wears many hats and is keen to popularize technology. His error page has an smart design, showing a fish out of water out of it’s comfort zone. You can press any key to move away from the page.
Jess Marks Photography
Jess and Marks are wedding photographers. They have kept their error page simple, using just shades of grey background and distinctive lettering to inform you that you are on the wrong page. Thus, you are prompted to go back to the menu or move on to their blog.
Adham Dannaway is a designer and a front end developer. His error page is not the usual run of the mill. It has Yoda emerging from a desktop screen and the message is written as if the Jedi Master himself was speaking.
Life Support is the name of a beverage that deals with hangovers.Their error page blames the visitor for blowing up the Internet.
Avioa is a consulting setup that helps with business strategies. They leave an invitation for you in their error page to get in touch with them.
1st Web Designer
This is primarily a web design company that is shifting its focus to WordPress Content Management System. They tell you that you are in the wrong page with a truism: not all those who wander are lost. From this page, you can move on to archives, start a search, or go back to the homepage.
Margaret Cho is a stand-up comedian and TV personality, who does live shows as well. The error page on her website tells you it’s okay to be lost and that Margaret too gets lost at times.
Sylvester Stallone is an actor who has moved on to other roles in film making. He is polite on his error page and offers to take you back. Or, you can browse the menu from the error page as well.
Web Hosting Secrets Revealed
This websites discusses hosting options for websites and reviews them as well. The error page has Grumpy Cat claiming to have eaten up the page in grammatically incorrect English.
Some of the illustrative error pages above must have caught your attention in one way or another. Maybe you could let us have a look at your error pages as well?