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Designing Memorable and Unique 404 Error Pages

What are 404 Error Pages?

A 404 error page is a web page that informs the user that the page they are attempting to access does not exist. They are most commonly used when a browser is unable to locate a requested page either due to a broken link or a mistyped URL. These error pages are sometimes referred to as « Page Not Found » pages.

Purpose of 404 Error Pages

The primary purpose of a 404 error page is to ensure that the user understands why they have reached an error page. A well-designed 404 page will explain what happened and direct the user to what they can do to continue. It is also important to generate a good user experience, as a poorly designed 404 page can discourage potential customers from using the website again.

Creating Memorable and Unique 404 Error Pages

When designing memorable and unique 404 error pages, it is important to make sure the page is both visually appealing and informative. The page should provide clear direction on what the user can do to locate the page they are looking for, while also entertaining them in some way. It can be helpful to create an illustration or animation to add some fun to the page. Additionally, using witty copy can help create a memorable experience for the user.

Including Navigation and Contact Information

It is important to make sure that the 404 page includes navigation to the homepage and other areas of the website. This will help the user find their way around the site more easily. Additionally, including contact information can be helpful in case the user needs to reach out for assistance.

Testing the 404 Error Page

Once the 404 page is designed, it is important to test the page to make sure it works correctly. This ensures that the user is able to see the page and is presented with the information and options available to them. It is also important to test the page on different browsers and devices to make sure it functions correctly on all platforms.


404 Error Pages: How They Can Make a Difference

404 error pages are often an afterthought for web design, but they can have a surprisingly large impact on overall user experience. When users find themselves on an unexpected page, what they see there can make the difference between the

Web Designm staying on the site or leaving it for good. And, if designed properly, 404 pages can be both creative and useful.

The 404 itself is a status code used by the server to indicate that the page the user has requested cannot be found. A bad 404 page will simply display an error message with no further explanation; a good one will use the situation as an opportunity to direct the user towards other content that may be of interest. This could be done in the form of a witty message with links to other pages on the site, or even a game or joke.

Airbnb is a great example of a company which has made use of 404 pages to promote their brand. Their 404 page is a replica of their website’s homepage, but with a humorous twist. Instead of finding accommodation, users instead find a rocket launching from the page with the message “Nothing Found Here” above it. This page works on multiple levels, not only conveying the message that the user has arrived at a dead end, but also reinforcing Airbnb’s brand image as a fun, forward-thinking company.

Animated gifs are another popular way of adding life to a 404 page. Often used to express disappointment or embarrassment in relation to the user’s mistake, gifs are also a powerful tool for conveying emotion. For instance, the web developer Brad Frost created a 404 page featuring a series of classic movie gifs with captions expressing his regret for the user’s experience. While it is certainly a funny page, it also successfully communicates the fact that the user has reached a dead end without appearing condescending.

Alternatively, Tesla Motors cleverly used its 404 page to showcase their products. The page featured a photo of their Model S car, along with a link to “Schedule a Test Drive”, giving users a chance to explore the product even when they are unable to find the intended page. This is a great example of how 404 pages can be used to actually drive engagement instead of just apologising for an error.

Finally, Dribbble uses its 404 page to allow users to reconnect with the community and explore new projects. Alongside an apologetic message, they provide links to their Trending list and Search tab, encouraging users to explore content even if they are unable to find what they were looking for.

Tactful Error Messages and Navigation

No matter how creative or attractive a 404 page might be, it is worthless if it fails to provide the necessary information and navigation options. It is essential that the page should feature a tactful error message, succinctly explaining the situation and assuring the user that the error is not their fault. There should also be a navigation menu allowing them to return to the h

Web Designomepage or search for content.

Aside from providing useful navigation, the message and navigation options should also be presented in a visually appealing way. Good wayfinding makes all the difference – if users cannot easily find their way back from the page, all the creativity is pointless. Good web design principles such as reducing clutter and using contrasting colours for elements of interest can help ensure that users can always find their way home.


When done well, 404 pages can be a valuable addition to a site’s user experience. They represent an opportunity for designers to show their creativity and get a little playful, while still providing users with useful information and navigation options. Companies like Airbnb, Tesla Motors and Dribbble have all used their 404 pages to great effect, and so can you.

Example 1:

Oh No! We couldn’t find this page.

404 error

We can’t seem to find the page you were looking for. You can try returning to the home page, or you can use the search box below.

Example 2:

Uh oh, looks like you’re lost!

404 error

We can’t seem to find the page you were looking for. You can try returning to the home page, or you can use the map below to help you find your way.


To go fruther on the topic

If you’d like to explore more on the topic of Designing Memorable and Unique 404 Error Pages, we recommend the following litterature:

1. « 404 Pages That Don’t Suck: Tips & Tricks for Designing a Unique, Memorable 404 Error Page » by Tessa Thornton, 2018.

2. « Designing a 404: How to Make a Meaningful Connection with Lost Visitors » by Sarah Dayan, 2016.

3. « Designing an Effective 404 Error Page » by Oli Gardner, 2012.

4. « Designing Better 404 Pages: 10 Simple Tips » by Paul Boag, 2009.

5. « Designing Killer 404 Error Pages » by David Artandi, 2008.

6. « Designing Creative 404 Error Pages » by Jon Yablonski, 2007.

Make sure your site leaves a lasting impression with your visitors: learn how to design unique and memorable 404 error pages that will keep them engaged with your brand.