Every now and then your internet search comes up against a message that reads something like “HTTP 404 Error”. Or you may come up against something like “You broke the internet”. Both messages really mean the same thing – the second message is merely an amusing way of putting it across that the page you are looking for cannot be found. This may happen when the page that you searched for has been moved or cannot be found on the server, or it may have been removed altogether. You may have typed the wrong URL. Whatever the reason, you have lost your way on the internet highway and a 404 error message is the internet’s way of letting you know it.
Just in case, you have not seen such a message ever, you could try this – type the URL of any website and follow the ‘/’ at the end with a string of gibberish. You will see what I am referring to. Such errors are inevitable – some 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 his click happy fingers will take him away from the website. But 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 and cause the mouse to linger a bit on your website. The interest or amusement can leave a nice memory, causing the visitor to return to the site sometime later.
So 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.
Email Center UK
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. But 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 the lost visitors if they are really looking for them or if they would like to be returned home.
On this website, one can keep tab 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, 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 left side of the page 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 asking 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- beautiful 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 the internet.
Espry describe themselves as artists, creators and visionaries in the digital world. Their 404 page has a cute dog looking all around 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, who is in fact a cat that sleeps on the couch for the most part and yet 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 error message is displayed on the full webpage with a suggestion to search, and 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 to launch a search from there or to go back to the homepage.
Woothemes is the website where you buy WordPress themes and plugins. They are the authors of the popular WooCommerce plugin. A fencer 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. The 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 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 is intelligently designed showing a fish out of water- out of it’s comfort zone, and 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 and you should 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 is written up like a prophecy and has the picture of an alien emerging from a desktop monitor.
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 a primarily web designing company that is shifting focus in 2016 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 ok 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 an annoyed cat claiming to have eaten up the page in grammatically incorrect English.
The illustrative error pages above is bound to have caught your attention in some way or the other.
Maybe, you could let us have a look at your error pages as well ?