404 Error Pages: Reloaded

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Three weeks ago we’ve showcased some of the most beautiful, creative and user-friendly 404 Error Pages1; 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.

404 Error Page Example2

Rainfall Daffinson makes sure you don’t feel lost.

404 Error Page Example3

Even a 404-error page can look stylish.

404 Error Page Example4

A book with the page which couldn’t be found.

404 Error Page Example5

404 Error Page Example6

404 Error Page Example7

Jamie Huskisson communicates with “lost” visitors using imagery.

404 Error Page Example8

404 error as time on a clock.

404 Error Page Example9

Sometimes you can feel or even smell that you’re definitely not on the page you wanted to visit.

404 Error Page Example10

2. Getting Poetic

404 error haiku. Informative, however a direct link to the start page would be quite useful.

404 Error Page Example11

Three more haikus by Lumino.us. Plus beer to keep you company.

404 Error Page Example12

And one more haiku by alt-web.com.

404 Error Page Example13

BlueVertigo offers a poem with horizontal scrolling.

404 Error Page Example14

A small poem about the 404 error by Poemofquotes.com

404 Error Page Example15

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’.

404 Error Page Example16

Darren Hoyt appeals to the humanity of mistakes and errors and communication with visitors directly.

404 Error Page Example17

3. Communicate Through Emotions

Isn’t he sad…

404 Error Page Example18

…however, Cat Content seems to be doing well…

404 Error Page Example19

…and Krystal gets no biscuit.

404 Error Page Example20

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.

404 Error Page Example21

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.

404 Error Page Example22

Even although you’re a douche bag, you can use a search box to get to the page you’ve been looking for.

404 Error Page Example23

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.

404 Error Page Example24

5. While You Are Lost…

…you can read a comic…

404 Error Page Example25

…or more comics (the image is changing after every reload)…

404 Error Page Example26

…get two cocktail recipes…

404 Error Page Example27

…die…

404 Error Page Example28

…don’t count to 404 (the site also provides a search box and a tag cloud)…

404 Error Page Example29

6. Explain What Happened

Explanation in a well-designed visualization of what happened.

404 Error Page Example30

Be aware when you’ve reached a buzzless page…

404 Error Page Example31

404 Error Page Example32

7. Explain What Can Be Done

404 Error Page Example33

Foobr offers a detailed explanation on what can be done and what the “lost” visitor might be looking for.

404 Error Page Example34

404 Error Page Example35

3amproductions.net suggests pages the visitor might be looking for.

404 Error Page Example36

Renet-web.met offers recent posts and a search box.

404 Error Page Example37

8. Unusual Solutions

Shocking visitors with colors – interesting, but not quite appealing…

404 Error Page Example38

Blue Screen Of Death on the Web.

404 Error Page Example39

Sorabji.com lists what people were looking for when they got the 404 Page Error. Interesting approach, however not recommendable – think of spambots.

404 Error Page Example40

9. Be Sincere

Jeremy seems to be really sorry about the missing page…

404 Error Page Example41

…so is Rainer…

404 Error Page Example42

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!

404 Error Page Example43

Footnotes

  1. 1 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2007/07/25/wanted-your-404-error-pages/
  2. 2 http://www.ateaseweb.com/404/
  3. 3 http://rainfall-daffinson.com/404
  4. 4 http://www.cgcraft.com/404
  5. 5 http://www.vi-su.de/404
  6. 6 http://slonky.com/404
  7. 7 http://iamww.com/404
  8. 8 http://www.jhuskisson.com/404
  9. 9 http://www.tix02.be/404
  10. 10 http://www.obedinenie.com/en/404
  11. 11 http://www.jackfig.com/404
  12. 12 http://lumino.us/404
  13. 13 http://alt-web.com/404
  14. 14 http://bluevertigo.com.ar/404
  15. 15 http://www.poemofquotes.com/404
  16. 16 http://dynz.net/jacob/404
  17. 17 http://www.darrenhoyt.com/404
  18. 18 http://suspendedanimations.com/404
  19. 19 http://tysontate.com/404/
  20. 20 http://krystalarchive.dwightdesign.com/404
  21. 21 http://www.alphomega.co.uk/404
  22. 22 http://www.tadleyroundabout.co.uk/404
  23. 23 http://www.expansionbroadcast.com/404
  24. 24 http://www.pyropoptrt.com/404
  25. 25 http://www.bioneural.net/404/
  26. 26 http://derfrison.com/404
  27. 27 http://www.cssleak.com/404.php
  28. 28 http://www.f23.com/404.shtml
  29. 29 http://www.porcupine.gr/404
  30. 30 http://www.nextwaveperformance.com/404
  31. 31 http://www.prt.sc/404/
  32. 32 http://www.martinkorner.co.uk/404df
  33. 33 http://www.psyked.co.uk/404
  34. 34 http://foobr.co.uk/css
  35. 35 http://www.robgoodlatte.com/404
  36. 36 http://3amproductions.net/404
  37. 37 http://www.renet-web.net/404
  38. 38 http://www.palmflying.com/404
  39. 39 http://www.galiacho.es/404
  40. 40 http://sorabji.com/404
  41. 41 http://jeremyfuksa.com/404
  42. 42 http://www.pen-and-paper.de/404.php
  43. 43 http://www.homestarrunner.com/systemisdown.html

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Vitaly Friedman loves beautiful content and doesn’t like to give in easily. Vitaly is writer, speaker, author and editor-in-chief of Smashing Magazine. He runs responsive Web design workshops, online workshops and loves solving complex performance problems in large companies. Get in touch.

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  1. 1

    Still my favorite 404 page (that I’ve made) jpmullan.com

    0
  2. 3

    I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I think some of the links may be messed up.

    The last one (http://www.smashingmagazine.com/images/404-2/doodoo.jpg) and the printscreen one (http://www.smashingmagazine.com/images/404-2/printscreen.jpg) seem to point to other 404 pages.

    I can’t even find 404 pages, heh.

    0
  3. 4

    crud, were you guys even able to see our 404 page? I think one of my devs fixed the site to auto-direct…. so basically fixing something that was suppose to be broke lol.. dang it! Next contest!

    the hard path:
    http://dev.starfeeder.com/404/404.html

    0
  4. 5

    Nice one! Gave me a cool idea for my own site

    Wipeout!

    0
  5. 6

    I love the Django Book one.

    0
  6. 7

    Hello

    I like alos the 404’s page of ministry for the culture of the French government

    URL : http://www.culture.gouv.fr/index-erreur.html

    1
  7. 8

    It’s not a real 404 but also a screen for not available. I like this one from datenvandalismus.org.

    0
  8. 9

    I’m a bit disappointed to see all those technical “404 errors”. Does any visitor know where you are talking about? Only people who actually build websites, as well as other IT professionals know what the 404 means. Is it that hard to use a clear message the users directly understand?

    1
  9. 10

    Adore the blue screen of death 404. What a great way to inject a little secret creativity on a site that’s been design-by-committeed to death.

    0
  10. 11

    buena colección :D

    0
  11. 12

    Chris Papadopoulos

    August 18, 2007 5:03 am

    I think the old blue-screen-of-death one is my favorite because taking little potshots at Microsoft is always funny. There are some very clever ones in here. I’m going to have to rethink my 404 page to provide a little more creativity.

    In terms of usability, I think providing a search field as well as some links to recent pages would be one of the better solutions though.

    0
  12. 13

    Wow, nice selection. This has got me inspired to work on my 404 page. Thank you.

    1
  13. 14

    So fun, I enjoyed looking at all of these! It’s intriguing how such a number has birthed all these artistic interpretations. Here’s my watermelony one:

    » http://torley.com/404

    0
  14. 15

    So your the reason my sites logged a million /adsddsa 404’s last month

    3
  15. 16

    Can’t wait for the next contest :)

    Hopefully we’ll make the next cut

    -1
  16. 17

    Vitaly Friedman & Sven Lennartz

    August 18, 2007 12:03 am

    the last one is
    http://www.homestarrunner.com/systemisdown.html

    sorry… too many links in

    1
  17. 18
  18. 19

    The Pure pwnage 404 is my favorite. Helps if you know the show.
    http://www.purepwnage.com/404.html

    0
  19. 20

    the book 404 page has impossible page numbering…page 404 should be on the left side, not the right.

    unless it’s 0 indexed.

    1
  20. 21

    Great selection. I like the idea making a nice or funny 404 page. So I made also one for my own blog (http://blog.aditu.de/error/404 or any other not existing link ;)).

    Thanks for the inspiration and sharing!!!!

    0
  21. 22

    At the top of section 2 you write “and beer to keep you company”, but the bottle depicted on the image below is clearly a whisky bottle.

    1
  22. 23
  23. 24

    Can’t help but to plug PG’s 404, a fancy shirt :-)

    http://www.planetgeek.org/tttfy

    0
  24. 25

    I can’t believe you missed the best 404 of all time… ZORK! (Yes, it really works!)

    0
  25. 26

    Here is a error page from my site: CLICK HERE

    By the way I really like your Smashing Website

    -1
  26. 27

    Thanks for the mention guys.

    0
  27. 28

    You just have to like how the first one confuses 404 with 505 (in the big image, not in its headline though).

    0
  28. 29

    The blue screen of death is the most scary 404 message – unknowing browsers that are familiar with the Windowz blue screen will most likely be certain they have killed their machine at first glance when happening upon a missing page.

    0
  29. 30

    “actually mine is better.. =]

    http://scar.atspace.org/404.html

    Yes i like the idea of your 404 page

    0
  30. 31

    Nice collection!

    0
  31. 32

    Nice list — was happy to see our site get up there (Slonky.com).

    Definitely like how there’s a good mix of function, creativity, and etc., throughout the list.

    0
  32. 33

    Design for MySpace

    August 20, 2007 8:57 am

    Loved the 404 idea, atleast this way the visitors would remember our page for a long time even if it doesnot load

    0
  33. 34
  34. 35

    I still prefer mine :)
    It captures your IP and your web client and writes it in the BSOD :)
    http://www.mariotomic.com/404.shtml

    0
  35. 36
  36. 37

    Nice pages. :)

    0
  37. 38

    Nice one! I’m doing one to my Site

    0
  38. 39

    I like the error page at ibiblio (especially the Australian one):

    http://www.ibiblio.org/404.html

    0
  39. 40

    i would like to make one custom page too…to told my reader page infected by virus….hohoho scare them when them access wrong page

    0
  40. 41

    The bluescreen one breaks all the other one’s… eheh

    0
  41. 42

    I like this blue screen of death-style 404 page more: http://zonaphotoshop.com/404

    0
  42. 43

    Here’s my 404 Not Found page as well.

    1
  43. 44

    We have one up at RolePlayGateway. It’s pretty much identical to the rest of the site, so users aren’t interrupted and are naturally pushed into our site.

    0
  44. 45

    404 error.

    this explanation really cool and valuable. where to change that page.

    thanks

    0
  45. 46

    It exists already ?

    http://hypem.com/track/368152

    0
  46. 47

    hello, this is my 404 page, that i created recently :)
    http://lanooz.net/404

    ‘wrong WC!’ :P

    0
  47. 48

    also check out this 404:

    http://www.webhex.net/404

    0
  48. 49

    hahaha!
    Love it!
    You can make a post with some 404 images. I have some to contribute! ^^

    0
  49. 50

    Strong Bad!!!, man nice way to be creative with errors.

    0
  50. 51

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