Fun With 404s

In the wonderful world of the world wide web, there’s a type of page that’s called the 404 page. This is the page that is shown by the site if the web request sent by the client is not understood by the web server. For more practical purposes, this page is also the catch-all page that is shown to users when there is an internal fatal error that cannot be mapped to any helpful or specific messaging that would be useful to the user.

Typically, when the user arrives at this page, they were trying to do something on the site, but something went berserk in the back-end and was not handled gracefully. There is a manual way to reach this page as well. Here’s how you can do it.

1. Start with a site URL, such as http://www.google.com
2. Append a slash “/” and an arbitrary piece of text, such as “arbitrarytext”
3. Go to the newly formed URL: http://www.google.com/arbitrarytext

Here’s what you’ll see: (highlights added by me)
Image

Thoughts…

1. I like the page title “Error 404 (Not Found)!!1” as the exclamation marks and the “1” at the end (what you would press if you weren’t holding down the shift key and trying to type an exclamation mark) really convey the frustration of the situation.
2. I love the picture of the robot that has fallen apart – it brings humor to a situation that may have otherwise been a bad user experience.
3. I love the part that says “That’s all we know”. This piece of text stays true to the error guideline of telling the user what happened and why it happened. Here the application is admitting its ignorance!
4. Finally, I see one room for major improvement. A Google search bar should be dropped into this page with a helpful piece of text such as “Looking for something? Perhaps, a web search would help…” or some other content. This is the page where people become stuck – there’s no better way to un-stuck the user than Google search to look for what possibly went wrong. And this could be a decent revenue generator for Google as well.

Here are some creative versions of this page: http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/60-really-cool-and-creative-error-404-pages/

2 thoughts on “Fun With 404s

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