Clicking on a broken link is a pain, but a witty and well-designed error page at least sweetens the pill. Here are the most original and imaginative designs to inspire you.
The 404 page is a standard response code in HTTP telling the user, in effect, that they've clicked on a broken link.
It's traditionally been an immense source of frustration but in recent years, designers have taken up the challenge of designing bespoke 404 pages that at least sweeten the pill of finding you're in the wrong place.
When done really well, they become mini-ambassadors for the website itself, being shared on Twitter and blogs as an example of the site or service's keenness for customer service and unique approach to design. The 33 we present here have achieved all this and more, so take a look and be inspired to create your own bespoke 404 pages!
Don't forget the magic word!
If you're a fan of Jurassic Park, then you'll love this brilliant 404 page by web design agency Nouveller. As the page loads, you are quickly presented with the Central Park Control Console, which needs rebooting. A small green cursor flashes, awaiting instruction, and promptly responds with 'access denied' to whatever is input. Remember to say the magic word! Genius.
02.) Hot Dot Production
Hot Dog's 404 page is seriously addictive
Hot Dot Productions has applied it's 'where design meets technology' tagline to its impressive 404 page, which features the three numbers made up of hundreds of tiny dots that change direction in response to mouse movements. Seriously cool.
This noisy chap provides a hilarious notification that you're in the wrong place
The 404 page of creative and digital design agency Bluegg is simple, but so effective. Upon loading, you're greeted by a goat, who lets out the most almighty high-pitched scream, alerting you that the page doesn't exist. The inner child in us emerged and we must admit to playing this repeatedly, while crying a little with laughter. Bravo, guys.
In general, Lego can do no wrong in our eyes, and we love this cute little tableau for its website's 404 page, which proves that you don't need a lot of technical-sounding text to get your error message across.
Magnt enables you to create a business-card-themed web page in minutes. Its clever 404 page demonstrates both a keen sense of wit, and a clear call to action to take you where you need to be.
Coding website GitHub is the home of geeks, and what better way to appeal to geeks than a simple Star Wars parody with parallax effect when you move your mouse? GitHub also has a nice 500 page for when the server breaks.
07.) CSS Ninjas
Another example of the web design world's love of ninjas, this 404 page features a nice simple illustration that reflects the site's general approach to design.
This site makes excellent use of animation including sound, and its 404 page employs a beautifully rendered subway station complete with empty train that rolls in. As with many of the examples here, the page diverges from the overall site aesthetic to great effect.
The designers at ultra-hip email newsletter service MailChimp have used lateral thinking here and come up with a banana analogy for a broken link. The style of the 404 page fits the rest of the site design nicely, reflecting the same lighthearted approach that makes an otherwise boring task into something fun and endearing.
10.) Hakim El Hattab
A 404 page designed for .net magazine, by Hakin El Hattab, this HTML5 experiment features creepy eyes that follow your cursor around the page with occasional blinking and narrowing of the iris. Brilliantly executed and nicely interactive.
11.) Tin Sanity
Tin Sanity features an incredible animation, involving a dancing cup and straw, that screams its way across the page around the text: "You just got 404'd". The screaming is accentuated with a drumroll and funky bass soundtrack, all of which leaves an excellent impression (although the website itself is currently empty).
The free ringtone-making service's 404 page features a beautifully rendered illustration of London, including the obligatory red bus and telephone box, as well as Big Ben's Tower, Sherlock Holmes and a hint of Tower Bridge. The site's worth a visit just for the artwork!
13.) Blik Wall Decals
This 404 page for Blik, the world's first removable wall graphic company, is slightly disturbing, featuring as it does a baby wielding a blood-soaked chainsaw. But this illustration style does reflect the rest of the site's aesthetics, so it's in-keeping even if it is a little creepy.
14.) Home Star Runner
Audio can be very effective when combined with visuals on a web page, especially as we're still in the early days of reliable audio-in-a-page. This error page for Home Star Runner, which features amusing characters, downloads, and games, shouts "404'd" when you first arrive on the page. And the hand-drawn illustration fits the rest of the site well in terms of style and theme.
Duoh is the collaborative partnership between illustrator Veerle Pieters and partner Geert Leyseele. Their business is based on strong design principles, and so you'd expect a well-realised 404 page; they don't disappoint. In characteristic bright colours and negative space, this page looks and feels in keeping with the rest of the site.
16.) Robert Sherman
This experiment by graphic design student Robert Sherman pretends to be an interactive bomb-defusing game, but at the end of it all it makes no difference which wire you choose. A good idea, albeit a little anticlimatic when you get to the punchline.