Page Not Found :/
Nathan Messelink • May 3
Getting lost sucks. It doesn’t matter if it’s due to poor directions (Do people still ask for those?) or an incorrect listing on Google Maps, the reason doesn’t change the result. Now you’re most likely late to the party, or worse, you never even get there.
404 errors are the digital equivalent to discovering you are lost. Functionally, they exist to inform a user that the requested or intended page cannot be found. This generally happens for a couple of different reasons:
1. A URL typo. #usererror
2. A broken or dead link from an external website.
3. A broken link within your site.
But just like bad directions, the reason doesn’t change the result. Regardless of why it happens, the outcome is the same: the user is left feeling frustrated and didn’t get to where they wanted to go. A standard 404 error page communicates this reality and usually offers the opportunity to start over (homepage link) or explore other pages.
a well-designed 404 page can be the perfect easter egg to reinforce a brand’s personality
So practically speaking, the error has been addressed. But what about the feeling? Users are human, which means they get annoyed, frustrated, and disappointed. It also means they most likely enjoy laughing and smiling. So do that. Make them smile.
404 pages afford designers a simple, yet fun opportunity to turn a user’s frown upside down. Whether it’s tailoring the messaging uniquely to the brand or using a humorous visual, a thoughtful, well-designed 404 page can be the perfect easter egg to reinforce a brand’s personality and empathize with a user’s frustration.
At the end of the day, you can’t control all the scenarios that generate a 404 error, but you can always design for a smile.