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Just a Bunch of Cool 404 Pages

23rd December 2018

404 pages are a bit of a weird obsession of mine. I love, love, love how creative some web designers get with them. If I land on a snazzy website, I’m always typing some random shite into the address bar to see if their 404 page is just as snazzy.

With the start of this blog arrives an opportunity to geek out about creative 404 pages. 🎉 It’ll probably turn into some sort of weird 404 series because there’s no way I’m not gonna come across more cool ones in the future.

So, I’ve already got a post up about Statamic...this’ll be my last thing on them for a while now, I swear. I’m fully aware it’s getting weird, especially as my current site is on WordPress.

But their 404 page is just weird and I love it. They haven’t bothered with links to anywhere other than the homepage which makes perfect sense. A lot of designers talk about ‘helpful’ 404 pages and about giving visitors options on where to go next. But, realistically, when we encounter an error, most of us probably hit reset and start again.

The best thing you can do is give them something to remember, right? Imagine having a really serious accountancy website which is all professional and practical until....a completely insane 404 page which is just there for a laugh. Is it not the coolest thing that you have the opportunity to do whatever the fuck you want and for it not to impact your main website?

Spotify’s 404 page is probably one that most designers know about seeing as it’s a massive brand. But that’ll also be because it’s really clever.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Kanye West (or ‘ye’ as I believe he calls himself fact, if you aren’t familiar with him, don’t bother with him), this is a reference to his 808s and Heartbreak album. If I remember correctly, I think their last 404 page showed lyrics from Justin Bieber’s song, ‘Sorry’.

Anyway, here’s what this is leading up to: I like companies that make full use of their theme or industry. They take whatever it is they sell and they use it in their marketing in the most innovative ways and just generally get weird with it.

Basically, I like companies who are total nerds at what they do. Thank u, next.

This one is jokes. Spin’s website is so matter-of-fact and harsh and it suits them down to the ground. It’s ‘on brand’, shall we say.

You can almost imagine the miserable old guy from Up! saying it, looking dead behind the eyes.

Also, I like just getting fancy with it like this lot do (the one above is from the Abduzeedo website). I mean, the main thing you want to get across is that there’s been an error. You don’t want to confuse people by taking them straight back to the homepage or something.

Side note: if a 404 automatically redirects to the homepage, my immediate thought is “oh shit, did I click on the homepage button by mistake?”. I’ll then go back and click on the same thing a few times until I realise that the designer’s just ‘avin me on. Don’t do itttttttttt.

And often, less is more. If you just take the 404 bit and don't worry about adding any other copy, you can get as creative as you like with those three numbers. And... it does the job.

A fun thing about the AIGA Eye on Design 404 page: the '404' gets bigger when you zoom out, and smaller as you zoom in.

Big fan of strange illustration. This one from Made by Folk is...well, apt. 

A final thought

If you’re a good person, you’ll send me cool 404 pages. Honestly, they make me really happy.