Designers need to make sure users are engaged, content is well presented, navigation is consistent and the interface is slick. But no matter how bulletproof our projects are, it’s likely that users will eventually stumble upon a broken link.
This may not be the end of the world, and it may seem quite trivial, but what if we could use this moment to give users a better experience or even engage them to take new actions?
Although 404 error pages are generally disliked and overlooked by companies that think they shouldn’t ever occur, you’re better off treating the 404 page as another opportunity to surprise and delight your audience.
I hope this collection will inspire you to design a beautiful 404 page and give you a few ideas of things you can do to reinforce your brand when they hit the 404 wall.
This 404 shows characters lost in the illustration. It works well because it’s funny, and the consistent style and color palette make you feel like you’re not lost at all.
Tell users where to go
Airbnb’s 404 communicates the error in a humorous way, and it gives the user helpful links to other areas of the site, helping them find their way back.
Let users find where to go
MailChimp keeps its 404 simple. It has a similar functionality to Airbnb’s, but it offers a search field instead, so users can keep trying to find what made them get lost in the first place.
Keep the experience immersive
If someone gets lost in your extreme sports streaming, why not show them short extreme video clips?
Make fun of the situation
Creativity and humor are often connected, so the use of a funny viral video is perfect for a creative company.
Make fun of yourself
Making fun of yourself is a great way to ensure users feel good about having made mistakes of their own. Also, the way it calls the user to volunteer gives the page an extra purpose.
This 404 uses a trending meme to communicate the message in a very creative way. It’s a good example of using a meme’s momentum, but it means the idea may become obsolete after a short time, and require updates.
Use pop culture
The use of iconic elements can be appealing to a large group of people, and make the experience fun.
Having multiple options is a way to make the experience playful. The varying experiences can engage the user to hunt for other hidden messages or easter eggs on the site.
Be simple and concise
You can still be creative even if the brand is too corporate for jokes. The audience may be too mature for illustrations or maybe humor doesn’t apply to the context, but that doesn’t need to prevent you from creating a nice experience.
Turn errors into opportunities with your 404s
For users to end up at a 404 is never ideal, but it happens. So don’t perceive it as a loss. Every engagement that you have with users is an opportunity to impress them, and 404s are no different.
The above examples prove that 404s can become an opportunity to strengthen your site’s impression on users. Depending on your site’s needs, you can design your 404 to express a brand’s sense of humour, redirect users in a specific way, or entertain them with surprise content.