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An error message with a twist

Encountering an error page while surfing the web is undoubtedly frustrating, but increasingly companies are designing witty 404 error pages that can soften the blow of a missing page.

The best the web has to offer in terms of 404 pages has now been curated by Matthew Keys on a Pinterest board.

"In the Web 2.0 era, when a user experiences a typical 404 error page, they feel as if a website hasn't completely thought out their service or design," he says.

"A well-designed error page adds to a consumer's impression of a website or company."

Keys, who is Deputy Social Media Editor at Reuters in New York, came up with the idea after Craig Kanalley of the Huffington Post tweeted social networking site Pinterest was down and displaying a generic 404 error page.

Keys suggested that somebody build a board of 404 pages, and took further inspiration from his friend Stephanie Haberman, who showed him a 404 slideshow.


The board took off in less than a few days thanks to retweets from several of Keys' friends and colleagues.

When you come across a generic or blank error message you are likely to leave the website and search elsewhere, warns Keys.

However, if you find the error page cute or witty, you may even tweet a link or share it on Facebook, driving more traffic to the company's website.

"If you can make an error seem less like an error, the consumer on the other end is more likely to appreciate your site," says Keys.

"There's a reason people prefer to see the sad Mac on an Apple computer over the blue screen of death on a Windows machine. Both mean the same thing - you've made an error - but the way they present the error are about as different as night and day."

Websites that feature on the Pitnerest board of error messages include The Huffington Post, Lego, and Hootsuite.

"They're willing to go the extra mile to incorporate their creativity into an error page that still delivers on that design, that positive consumer experience," says Keys.

"Or maybe they just had a few hours to kill and they decided to geek out a bit."