The web’s best 404 page…

Written by Ben Leach on

We decided last week that we’d launch the (unofficial) Error 404 Page ‘World Cup’. Find out who won…

As it’s 404 Day today, we decided last week that we’d launch the (unofficial) Error 404 Page ‘World Cup’. We whittled it down to twelve as a team and then released our Twitter followers to vote on the winner.

We’ve all probably seen an error 404 page in our lifetime, and unfortunately, they aren’t always the most attractive thing in the world.

standard 404 error

But some web developers have come to our saviour, they appreciate that things go wrong and that a 404 page is an excellent opportunity to insert a little bit of personality into the brand and keep the customer engaged.

So, here’s a leader board of how our favourite 404 pages faired against our followers…

12. (Disqualified) 404 page

At HeX, we’re sticklers for accessibility. While did an excellent job of making a cute 404 page, this entire page is an image with no alt text, so to blind people…there’s literally nothing apart from a menu item on this page. Thanks to Twitter user @CuriousScutter for pointing that one out!

11. GitHub (1.3% of votes)

github 404 page

It’s an unfortunate fate for GitHub. Securing none of the votes at all, it came in at 11th place, despite the Obi-Wan/Ben Kenobi (Alec Guinness) reference from 1977 film, Star Wars. We thought the web-nerds would also be sci-fi nerds, but clearly, it’s not the case, and there were more worthy 404 pages.

10. Homestar Runner (1.3% of votes)

homestar runner

Coming next, in 10th place is the 404 page of Homestar Runner. A stop-frame Flash animation, it has all the hallmarks of a dying breed of web pages… who uses flash these days!? Still, it made it this far thanks to the nostalgia it gave us and it’s quite a funny little animation.

9. IMDb (1.3% of votes)

IMDb 404 page

We thought that this one might inspire the minds of the movie fanatics on our followers list, but once again, one of the favourites fell short of our expectations. A play on the popular Dr.Emmett Brown quote from Back to the Future: “where we’re going we don’t need roads”.

What did strike us as strange is that there’s not very much design on this page and that the navigation bar has all but disappeared? Perhaps it’s gone Back to the Future?

8. NPR (1.3% of votes)

NPR 404 page

NPR failed to inspire our followers and fell short when it came to the votes. In many ways, this page is actually quite dark, listing articles that also include missing people and belongings. In our opinion, while it is cleverly done, it fails to capture the imagination or put much of a personality behind NPR.

7. Slack (3.8% of votes)

In true Slack fashion, they created something cleverly designed with a good UI, taking you directly to their Help Centre if you need a hand with anything, or if that page should’ve existed!

The things that really makes it stand out is the background, a fantasy land with floating pieces of land that resembles some kind of video game. It’s an unnecessary, yet cool part of the page.

6. Blizzard (6% of votes)

Perhaps one of the coolest 404 pages visually, Blizzard assumes that the user is at fault, very presumptuous, but it reveals a very broken website, with a wonky menu and smashed glass effect. It definitely adds some personality to the brand and shows a bit of humour. Even better still, the menu links still work.

5. Marvel Entertainment (8.5% of votes)

Marvel injects a bit of personality into their 404 page. For those who aren’t passionate about superhero films, the Uatu is a member of ‘the Watchers’ who, in the Marvel universe, monitor the activities of other species across the world. Uatu is responsible for watching over Earth and its solar system. A creative way of saying that the page doesn’t exist.

4. 20th Century Fox (11.4% of votes)

20th Century Fox’s 404 page is quite creative, it revolves between a few different ones, and leverages clips from some of their popular films to creatively display the 404 page. A funny and smart way to say that a mistake has been made, and it definitely inserts some brand personality into it.

3. Pixar (12.3% of votes)

There’s definitely a correlation between film companies and good 404 pages, right? Coming in with the bronze medal is Pixar Animation Studios with this piece of creative genius. If you haven’t seen the film Inside Out, you need to watch it. To explain, this blue character represents sadness in the brain, and the Long Term Memory which is referred to is where memories go to die.

A relatable and personal way to tell you that the page you’re looking for doesn’t exist.

LEGO (18.6% of voters)

With more than 62 LEGO bricks per person of the Earth’s population (that’s about 440+ billion), LEGO is undeniably an internationally renowned brand for miniature architectural projects, whether you’re 8 or 80, you’ve definitely heard of it, if not built something out of it!

LEGO characters also have a reputation, it’s predicted the population of LEGO figures outnumbers humans by a few billion. Which is why this 404 page is both amusing and clever, removing the blame from you and the website and instead blaming a LEGO figure. A close second!

1. Cloud Sigma (31% of the votes)

A worthy winner indeed. Cloud Sigma, combines all of the ingredients of what makes a good 404 page into one; humour, personality and cats. With most of our Twitter followers being in the web industry, this one must’ve resonated with them.

A well designed and well-executed 404 page which displays the brand’s personality, while also making a subtle joke – what’s not to love?

So, what have we learnt?

This blog wasn’t just an excuse to slack-off and look at some funny, creative or witty 404 pages – there is a meaning behind it. 404 Day highlights that not everything goes right all of the time, and that’s ok.

A 404 page is often thought to be a mistake, whether it’s a wrongly typed web address on the user’s side or a development blunder on the website’s side. But it’s key to remember that everybody makes mistakes and, even in the world of web, errors are O.K, as long as they’re rectified. Similarly, a mistake doesn’t have to be ugly, or clunky, a mistake can be great, and if you admit a mistake has been made, make a joke out of it, and point the user to relevant information, it can help rather than hinder your brand identity.  

These 404 pages are perfect examples of a mistake turned into a fantastic marketing opportunity, and it goes to show that not everything needs to be taken seriously.

If you need help with your own marketing and web page creation, make sure you get in touch with us.

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