how to show error(404) to the user
Published on August 17th, 2007 in Design Showcase Tags: | 404, Design, Error, inspiration, Navigation | 176 comments.
Three weeks ago we’ve showcased some of the most beautiful, creative and user-friendly 404 Error Pages; we’ve collected some interesting ideas one can use to help out the visitors once they got lost ony your page. We’ve also asked our readers to design their own 404 pages and promised to present the best solutions afterwards.
We’ve received over 100 entries. The choice wasn’t easy, so evaluating the quality of the entries we’ve considered - among other things - the communication with visitors, precise and clear navigation, the use of graphics, creative ideas and some outstanding solutions. Some of the solutions presented below might not be as helpful as they could or should be, however they include some creative approaches you should be aware of designing your 404 error pages.
We’d like to thank to everyone who participated, your input means a lot for us and for web-designers worldwide. You help to improve the quality of the Web. Don’t underestimate it.
So here is what you’ve come out with: over 40 working examples of user-friendly, creative and outstanding 404 error pages - in a brief overview.
1. Appealing images
A really dirty, hand-made image with a comment - for despaired visitors only. The page also includes a search box.
Rainfall Daffinson makes sure you don’t feel lost.
Even a 404-error page can look stylish.
A book with the page which couldn’t be found.
Jamie Huskisson communicates with “lost” visitors using imagery.
404 error as time on a clock.
Sometimes you can feel or even smell that you’re definitely not on the page you wanted to visit.
2. Getting poetic
404 error haiku. Informative, however a direct link to the start page would be quite useful.
Three more haikus by Lumino.us. Plus beer to keep you company.
And one more haiku by alt-web.com.
BlueVertigo offers a poem with horizontal scrolling.
A small poem about the 404 error by Poemofquotes.com
Jacob Thomas quotes Winston Churchill and informs lost visitors that the page they’ve been looking for seems to have been burnt down by a puckish elf called ‘Prontyr’.
Darren Hoyt appeals to the humanity of mistakes and errors and communication with visitors directly.
3. Communicate through emotions
Isn’t he sad…
…however, Cat Content seems to be doing well…
…and Krystal gets no biscuit.
4. Communicate through irony
Maybe an idiot has passed you the wrong link or maybe a bigger idiot has linked in their site to a page that doesn’t exist. In both cases the big boss man has been sent an email informing him of this problem, so the person responsible can be tied to a tree and horsewhipped! Nice to know.
Martin Yelland has some good explanations about what happened: strange little Web Gremlins or fluctuations of the Earth’s Magnetic field might have caused the error - however, a team of highly trained monkeys has been dispatched to deal with this situation.
Even although you’re a douche bag, you can use a search box to get to the page you’ve been looking for.
Apparently, this is a test of the emergency broadcast systems. You should remain calm, these kinds of things happen all the time. The “four oh four error” by Poropoptrt.com.
5. While you are lost…
…you can read a comic…
…or more comics (the image is changing after every reload)…
…get two cocktail recipes…
…don’t count to 404 (the site also provides a search box and a tag cloud)…
6. Explain what happened.
Explanation in a well-designed visualization of what happened.
Be aware when you’ve reached a buzzless page…
7. Explain what can be done.
Foobr offers a detailed explanation on what can be done and what the “lost” visitor might be looking for.
3amproductions.net suggests pages the visitor might be looking for.
Renet-web.met offers recent posts and a search box.
8. Unusual solutions.
Shocking visitors with colors - interesting, but not quite appealing…
Blue Screen Of Death on the Web.
Sorabji.com lists what people were looking for when they got the 404 Page Error. Interesting approach, however not recommendable - think of spambots.
9. Be sincere.
Jeremy seems to be really sorry about the missing page…
…so is Rainer…
10. Do whatever you want to do.
This is not a working example, since the site isn’t using the page as a working 404 error page. Nevertheless it’s quite funny: the characters are talking, and as you might suggest, they are talking about 404 errors!