The 411 on 404 Pages

Recently on Twitter Lisa Barone pointed out that the 404 page she setup drives some of her colleagues at Outspoken Media crazy. Personally I think it's hysterical, but that's not the point. Lisa got me thinking about the point of a 404 error page and what makes one good.

The great thing about 404 pages is that you essentially have a whole page dedicated to one very short message. This means you don't need to sacrifice creativity for utility. The 404 page is one of the easiest places to create a user experience that is both memorable and useful. As I scoured the internet for quality 404 pages I was quite disappointed that many social media experts, marketers, and even some well known agencies have bland or unhelpful 404 pages. So, without further ado, I give you ten prime examples of a quality 404 error page:

[caption id="attachment_343" align="alignleft" width="387" caption="404 toast from a cooking site is as good a meal as you can ask for from a page that doesn't exist."]404 toast from a cooking site is as good a meal as you can ask for from a page that doesn't exist[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_349" align="alignleft" width="387" caption="An empty catchup bottle for an empty page. "]4049[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_351" align="alignleft" width="387" caption="This Japanese styled blog has an interesting error page. The internet has apparently revived the age of Ninjas. "]This Japanese styled blog has an interesting error page. The internet has apparently revived the age of Ninjas. [/caption]

[caption id="attachment_352" align="alignleft" width="387" caption="Laughing Squid Web Hosting has an appropriate story for their 404 page."]Laughing Squid Web Hosting has an appropriate story for their 404 page[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_355" align="alignleft" width="387" caption="The Pownce 404 page is humorous for the internet geeks, aka the people who used Pownce."]The Pownce 404 page is humorous for the internet geeks [the people who used to use Pownce][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_356" align="alignleft" width="387" caption="This 404 page is for the recently released online video game Warhammer Online."]Warhammer Online 404[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_357" align="alignleft" width="387" caption="A 404 message for oldschool product planners."]A 404 message for oldschool product planners.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_358" align="alignleft" width="387" caption="Brightkit has a humorous picture of a missing owl, the mascot of their company, depicting their 404 page. This makes me happy we use Brighkit for Twitter."]Brightkit has a humorous picture of a missing owl, the mascot of their company, depicting their 404 page. This makes me happy we use Brighkit for Twitter.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_359" align="alignleft" width="387" caption="This game got lots of hype, but it's the 404 page that has circulated around the design community."]This game got lots of hype, but it's the 404 page that has circulated around the design community.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_360" align="alignleft" width="387" caption="This Australian Graphic Designer has an amazingly well designed website and an equally slick 404 page. "]This Australian Graphic Designer has an amazingly well designed website and an equally slick 404 page. [/caption]

Written by Chris Allison on May 5, 2009

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Chris says:

points taken. We'll try to be more creative with our posts. The "oldschool" was simply a reference to the chalkboard since I don't know anyone who still uses a chalkboard- it had nothing to do with the actual app or their service.

edit/update: also, i agree you have been a bit of a dick, but I also appreciate that you're challenging us. I'd be happy if you'd continue to challenge us in the comments and give us feedback on how to make the blog better.

Chris says:

points taken. We'll try to be more creative with our posts. The "oldschool" was simply a reference to the chalkboard since I don't know anyone who still uses a chalkboard- it had nothing to do with the actual app or their service.

edit/update: also, i agree you have been a bit of a dick, but I also appreciate that you're challenging us. I'd be happy if you'd continue to challenge us in the comments and give us feedback on how to make the blog better.

Mike Keen says:

You didn't find these on your own, that's the point. I'm glad you'll be sourcing articles better in the future, but what's the point of just rehashing blog posts that have been done already? What value does that add to your blog? None. Also, what is the meaning of "A 404 message for oldschool product planners." I know the guys that built that app, and they have no clue what that is supposed to mean earlier.

You guys should develop original content instead of just stealing it from other blogs with no sourcing, and half-assedly adding meaningless fluff to it. Or, you know, have a spammy, self indulgent blog that nobody wants to read.

I'm being a dick because you guys can do so much better.

Mike Keen says:

You didn't find these on your own, that's the point. I'm glad you'll be sourcing articles better in the future, but what's the point of just rehashing blog posts that have been done already? What value does that add to your blog? None. Also, what is the meaning of "A 404 message for oldschool product planners." I know the guys that built that app, and they have no clue what that is supposed to mean earlier.

You guys should develop original content instead of just stealing it from other blogs with no sourcing, and half-assedly adding meaningless fluff to it. Or, you know, have a spammy, self indulgent blog that nobody wants to read.

I'm being a dick because you guys can do so much better.

Chris says:

Mike,

Although I did take some picks from other lists of quality 404 examples I actually never saw that one. It would have been more appropriate to say I used the list at: http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/01/29/404-error-pages-one-more-time/

since that was the main resource I went off of. That being said- the post idea came first, I didn't see Smashing's post and decide to copy it- I just chose to use some of their picks. Some of their picks show up on the list you've referenced, which goes to show (along with many other posts) that most of the 404 example lists on the web have a degree of overlap. It's bound to happen.

The list you linked to has over 150 picks...My list has 10, so the chances are very high that I'm going to pick some that show up in other lists- it isn't as if we or they are the only blog to post a list of 404 error pages.

Thanks for stopping by. Feel free to continue the discussion here in the comments or you can reach us via e-mail or twitter. callison@neboweb.com and @neboweb.

edit: I'll be sure to reference any sources more closely in the future.

Chris says:

Mike,

Although I did take some picks from other lists of quality 404 examples I actually never saw that one. It would have been more appropriate to say I used the list at: http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/01/29/404-error-pages-one-more-time/

since that was the main resource I went off of. That being said- the post idea came first, I didn't see Smashing's post and decide to copy it- I just chose to use some of their picks. Some of their picks show up on the list you've referenced, which goes to show (along with many other posts) that most of the 404 example lists on the web have a degree of overlap. It's bound to happen.

The list you linked to has over 150 picks...My list has 10, so the chances are very high that I'm going to pick some that show up in other lists- it isn't as if we or they are the only blog to post a list of 404 error pages.

Thanks for stopping by. Feel free to continue the discussion here in the comments or you can reach us via e-mail or twitter. callison@neboweb.com and @neboweb.

edit: I'll be sure to reference any sources more closely in the future.

Mike Keen says:

You ripped this blog posting off from:

backtoessentials[dot]com/showcases/a-collection-of-404-error-pages/

Nice URL filter.. not :)

Mike Keen says:

You require approval for the posting of comments too? Hahaha... you guys are too legit to quit, huh? PS.. you're all fucking retarded.

Written by
Chris Allison