Zappos VIP Points Store leads to a Very Nice 404 Page

While I was browsing on Zappos, I noticed that they have a Points Store for their VIP users (which I happen to be): 

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After clicking through, I was served with an array of redemption options: 

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Here, the interesting thing is, any redemption option that I click on, leads to a 404 page: 

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While this is most likely a bug, and not the desirable user experience, the 404 page that I’ve been served is very creative and should be applauded. There are three options: Try A SearchGo Home, and Get Help. The most amazing thing about this graphic is that for each button that you hover your mouse over, you get a corresponding image that points you to where exactly that button takes you. Almost like a meta-site-awareness. Take a look below at the three screenshots for the three mouse hover states: 

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Renny Gleeson: 404, the story of a page not found

A number of my previous posts have been about error handling and specifically about how some sites handle 404 errors. Some examples: here, here, and here.

Today, I saw a really cool TED talk on 404 errors. The speaker mentioned some things I’ve mentioned in my previous posts and in general, the talk was quite interesting.

Here is the YouTube link to the video.

In case the video gets taken down, the presenter was Renny Gleeson and the title of the talk was 404, the story of a page not found.

CNN Loves Search Bars

In an earlier post, I had suggested that Google place a search bar in their 404 page. 

CNN.com has taken the exact opposite approach of having too many search bars in a 404 page: 

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They have not one, not two, but three [!!] search bars in their 404 page. Granted two of them are from the header and footer, but still, there’s got to be a better design. I’m sure Google is loving the heavy emphasis on “powered by Google” x 3 on this page.  

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)
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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/