Posted in Websites on Apr 05, 2022

What Are 404 Pages?

A broken link can be one of the most frustrating things to someone trying to browse your site. But with a little imagination, you can turn a broken link into something your visitors will be thrilled to stumble upon.

There are hundreds of error codes a website or server can generate based on code errors, domain issues, or missing content. 

The most common error code a user will encounter is the dreaded 404 Page Not Found error. In short, this error means the requested resource (usually a page) could not be found. 

This usually means the page is trying to be accessed has been moved, deleted, or the url the user typed in is wrong. 

Usually a 404 error page is frustrating and not really helpful. They typically look like this:

It’s ugly, it doesn’t match the site’s overall design, and certainly doesn’t give you a solution to your problem. Your only option is to click the back button or close the window and regret the life decisions that brought you to this page.

Google’s 404 page is a little better but is still a bit problematic.

The design of the page matches Google’s brand, so that’s good. And there’s a little more information about the error. There’s even a sad, broken robot that commiserates with you, but it’s still a dead-end page. 

To have a truly successful 404 page, your page should do the following:

  • Acknowledge the issue (and apologize!).
  • Offer a solution.
  • Bonus Points: Engage the user in a way that makes them not care that what they’re looking for is missing.

Good Examples of 404 Pages

Here are a few examples of sites that do a good job handling broken pages. The commonality between these is that the broken page actually feels like a part of the website. The menu and footer is present, and the body is in line with the core design of the site. Furthermore, these pages aren’t dead ends; they give you options for where to go next.

Great Examples of 404 Pages

Here are a few examples of 404 pages that knock it out of the park. Humor usually plays a big role in the success of a 404 page. You can’t be mad if you’re laughing, right?

Brand Crowd acknowledges the broken link but then uses the page as an opportunity to showcase its artwork. The drawing has a high amount of detail, giving you things to explore while forgetting that you were actually looking for something different.

Lego utilizes the Jedi mind trick 404 page; this is not the page you’re looking for. They don’t even acknowledge the link is broken they just pretend that you’re on a broken page on purpose you stopped to ask for directions.

Magnt uses a Venn diagram to play cheeky with a “who’s fault is it REALLY that you’re here”?

Spotify maintains the music theme with their 404 page. Fun fact, in the music world, the Roland SP-404 was a sampling workstation used by many popular musicians. Spotify’s 404 page could have achieved legendary status had they worked that into their error page. But records are still cool, I guess.

Canva might have one of the best 404 pages out there. Sure you might be looking for something specific, but who cares, it’s puzzle time!

Some of the best 404 pages don’t even have anything to do with the services or products they offer. Sometimes it’s best to just go for the laugh.

GitHub goes the standard nerd route with a Star Wars joke…This is not the web page you are looking for.

And speaking of Star Wars, we’d be remiss if we didn’t include our own 404 page efforts on the list. Check it out in action here.