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From time to time I like to compile some of the the more recent examples of 404 pages that I’ve seen, which stand out for their creativity. Here's my latest semi-regular round-up of the web's more entertaining error pages.

It’s worth pointing out in advance that not all of the following comply with best practice. If a user can’t find a page (typically the result of a broken link, which isn’t their fault, or a mis-typed URL, which is) then it is your job to guide them out of a hole.

In practice, this means a link back to your homepage at the very least, and preferably a search box, links to popular areas of your site, and some kind of messaging that tells the user what’s going on.

On top of that I think it is a good idea to throw in a little humour, context, and / or entertainment that makes light of a lame situation. To that end, these 12 examples should provide some inspiration for you to overhaul an often overlooked page on your site.

Your users may thank you for it. And hey, you might generate a few new inbound links from websites that like to compile these things!

Romain Brasier

Everybody of a certain age loved to play Lemmings, which is the interactive backdrop to this 404 page. You can 'save' the falling lemmings by hovering your mouse over them, to provide them with a parachute.

Allgamers

Romain links to another 404 page with vintage gameplay… this time, a playable Space Invaders from Allgamers.

Heyzap

Another game to play when you get lost.

Spalding

The sports brand hits one out of the park... 

Titleist

Basically this is me, playing golf.

DC Comics

The Joker makes an appearance…

The Rolling Stones

When things go awry the world's greatest rock 'n roll band proudly displays a video of one of it's classic songs.

Nouveller

Some Jurassic Park-themed functionality pops up for you to play with, along with a picture of a saucy pin up...

University Of Dallas

A 404 poses a philosophical question...

SEOCOM

This search agency no doubt understands that a creative 404 page can attract inbound links. No need for a face palm...

Screaming Frog

Aha, another SEO agency has cottoned onto this cunning tactic! Let the frogs play you a frog chorus...

Giraffe

The restaurant chain with the surprisingly good website has also contextually customised its 404 page…

Do let me know if you spot any new 404 pages along similar lines, or happen to change yours... 

Chris Lake

Published 18 March, 2013 by Chris Lake

Chris Lake is CEO at EmpiricalProof, and former Director of Content at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter, Google+ or connect via Linkedin.

582 more posts from this author

Comments (33)

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Paul Martin

I'm not sure the two highlighted SEO agencies are doing it for links as hinted at. A link to a page with a 404 HTTP response header isn't going to get you very far very fast!

over 3 years ago

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Sanket Nadhani

We quite like our 404 page as well :) - http://www.fusioncharts.com/404/

over 3 years ago

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Peter

I saw this the other day and thought it was quite fun considering the topic of the website: https://www.undergroundeats.com/econsultancy404

over 3 years ago

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Kate Bond, Digital Manager at Blastmedia

over 3 years ago

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David Lakins

Here's our - keeping up the sheep theme!
http://www.keymultimedia.co.uk/404

over 3 years ago

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mbatey

How many articles about 'fun' 404 pages will we have to read before someone comes up with a better solution then 404 pages?

over 3 years ago

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james

Love these 404 designs and they are so much more creative that the bland pages that most websites have. I may stealing some of these ideas and showing my boss, thanks guys!

over 3 years ago

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John Benfield

Nothing visually stunning but I just re-did ours by adding a Shakespeare quote...

http://www.rsc.org.uk/error404.aspx

over 3 years ago

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Jemima Tio

Following on from the golf theme our designer made us smile with this one http://www.visitstandrews.com/404

over 3 years ago

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Stu

www.kashflow.com/404

^ I copywrote (copywritted? copywrat?!) this one - think it turned out pretty nicely!

over 3 years ago

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Darren Hooper

We like our 404 page but we are going to change it - the customer doesn't care or in many cases understand what a 404 is - so we'll be removing this part and going with something more customer friendly.

http://www.rutlandcycling.com/43428/Specialized-Langster-Single-Speed-Road-Bike---2013.html

over 3 years ago

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Chris Baker

Just wanted to second the implications of the post - giving the customer practical assistance is more important than trying to be funny.
So (as some of the examples do) it's important to tell the customer:
1) what has happened - the primary part of the message should be tailored to what they need to know and be in English, not Nerd
2) whether they need to do anything about it (probably not for a 404, but in other circumstances, do they need to reload the page, would it be useful to reassure them that they don't need to call customer services?
3) What they can do next - some sensible way to navigate onwards.

Once that's achieved, I think humour is fine if it is kept in bounds. Not good if your customer doesn't think this error is funny, but you seem to. Especially if you were too busy with the witticisms to offer practical help!

over 3 years ago

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Amanda

I do like a well designed 404 page but I prefer to find the link I was going to. I hope that the people who use these well designed pages are as good at checking the analytics and ensuring users don't see them too often!

over 3 years ago

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Christian Ullmark, E-Commerce Manager Europe at BabyBjörn

Its great to see good creative, however, its too bad no one has used it to recommend other pages to try to get the user to continue shopping. why not have recommends based on what they were looking at before they hit the 404 or other paths that were taken?

over 3 years ago

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Nupur Manchanda, Director at Practicology

After all the sensible comments about checking analytics and offering dynamic forward links, is it too late to add another example of beautiful creative?
http://www.hotelchocolat.com/uk/home/404

over 3 years ago

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Qais Sami

Is it "hole fun" :-) or "whole fun" ?

over 3 years ago

Gemma Holloway

Gemma Holloway, Digital Marketing Executive at Koozai

Some excellent funny 404 pages. I love this type of post.

Here's one of my favourites - http://visitsteve.com/404.html

over 3 years ago

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Rick Elenbaas, SEO Executive at Outrider

Please do some research before you write an article. Business Insider posted this article just 3 days ago: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-best-404-error-pages-of-all-time-2013-3?op=1.

over 3 years ago

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David Lascombe

Nice article and awesome selection, I should get to it ! I liked the comments, indeed having a nice 404 page is part of a whole : it shows your potential clients that you don't miss out even on details.

I agree with Chris Baker though, before everything a 404 should help the poor lost visitor to understand what happened and how to find what he was looking for. I would even invite them to contact customer service if needed, way better than having your potential customer leave to the competition.

over 3 years ago

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Toke Kruse

404 pages should be fun and stupid. Check out ours:
http://billysbilling.com/accounting-software-404

over 3 years ago

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Jacob Clark

Hardly the best 404 pages. Who do you lay to wrote these utterly pointless and uninspiring topics.

over 3 years ago

Shane Ryans

Shane Ryans, VP, Paid Search at PPC Professionals

Thanks, Nice 404 pages ours it neat too... http://ppcprofessionals.com/404

over 3 years ago

Scott Hargrave

Scott Hargrave, Managing Director at www.edgeandwax.co.uk

This was a really useful point, so being a wintersports specialist we went for the "Off Piste" message for our ski site and board site too, even reminding customers to wear a transceiver if going off the sides :0) Think that's a first!

One for the skiers:
http://www.edgeandwax.co.uk/404

One for the snowboarders:
http://www.blisssnowboards.co.uk/404

Thanks for the inspiration! Ensuring we now have an edited google tracking code means we can learn a lot more too about when things do go a little stray :o)

over 3 years ago

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Michelle Morris

I think this is a very amusing way of spicing up something which is otherwise very bland. I'm feeling inspired to spruce up our 404 redirect page!

about 3 years ago

Marc Mezzacca

Marc Mezzacca, Founder at NextGen Shopping LLC

The lemmings one cracked me up. And I may have just played space invaders.

My personal fave (as a Star Wars fan) is Github!

https://github.com/404

about 3 years ago

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Patrick Newham

Here is one to add to your list

http://www.denzelthegame.com/hhhjds

about 3 years ago

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Damisya Cebu City, Maritime / Seabased Jobs in Cebu at Maritime / Seabased Jobs in Cebu

here's the BEST 404 I've ever seen. http://www.artistspring.com/404

about 3 years ago

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Tim Dugan, Marketing Specialist at Web Services CT

about 3 years ago

Rupert Adam

Rupert Adam, Senior Marketing Executive at Emailcenter

I think Romain Brasier's Lemmings 404 page is brilliant.

This is Emailcenter's offering - http://www.emailcenteruk.com/404

almost 3 years ago

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pooja rai, Seo Cosultant at poojarai.com

I think its quite funny when this appears before you even it isn't your fault. Thanks for sharing such information Mr. Romain Brasier.

over 2 years ago

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pooja rai, Seo Cosultant at poojarai.com

I think its quite funny when this appears before you even it isn't your fault. Thanks for sharing such information Mr. Romain Brasier.

over 2 years ago

Nash

Nash, Nectafy, LLC

I'd like to see a 404 with a music video like ours, check it out! http://nectafy.com/404-error-page-smile We had fun making it. Pretty creative, don't you think? Too late to get added to the list but hey, maybe when you do another round-up next time.

over 2 years ago

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Christie Kristensen, Marketing at Creativepool

almost 2 years ago

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