Chances are, you’ve probably encountered a lot of 404 error pages at least once in your online browsing experience. These pages are signals that reveal something wrong in the website, resulting in browsing interruptions.
While it can be pretty disappointing to get stuck in these error pages, website owners can actually use them to entertain their visitors or provide important bits of information.
Design Ideas For Your 404 Error Pages
Here are some design techniques to turn your otherwise a discouraging 404 error into an entertaining – and lead-generating – page on your site:
1. Choose a catchy line from a popular song
If there is one thing that will keep your visitors entertained even when they stumble upon your site’s 404 error page, that’s a memorable line from famous songs. This is a clever way to make your visitors stay, because it is likely that they will enjoy figuring out what your page is trying to say.
Start looking for classics or pop songs, then try to incorporate your humor to make it work.
2. Make use of hilarious animal photographs
Photographs of animals always seal the deal. Almost everyone will agree that animals caught doing funny faces will always be a stress-reliever. Make use of the same idea in designing your 404 error page.
Start looking for photos of your fat dogs, smiling cats, or your serious-looking hedgehogs! Along with the photo, also put the extra effort to think of a funny phrase that will make it look it is the animal that is talking to your site visitor.
3. Put up an arcade game
There is no greater bore in browsing websites than seeing 404 error pages. Why not use your error page to let your visitors play a game?
Depending on your web development skills, you can install a simple online game on your 404 error pages. This is an effective way to keep your visitors stay in your site because they will be too engrossed playing the game.
Of course, you need to make sure that the game you will choose to use should be related to your brand or company.
4. Use Venn Diagrams
Venn diagrams may sound like they’re designed for serious stuff, but interesting messages always work their way. The thing about these diagrams is that they are very simplistic, and they catch the attention of people especially if they find the information useful.
Start considering using Venn diagrams on your 404 error pages because they’re effective visual cues of what your website can tell your visitors.
5. Put comic strips on your page
When people see a comic strip, chances are, they will read until the end especially if the characters and story line are fantastically packaged. One suggestion is that you can make your own comic strip on how your visitors ended up going to your site’s 404 error page. You probably already know what interests people the most: when they see something on your site that has something to do with them.
6. Share some trivia
The thing about branding is that you have to make a mark on your site visitors so they can remember what your company can offer. Remember that you are trying to make the extra effort to connect with your clients through your site.
When all else fails and something hinders you from doing this, your 404 error page should still remind your site visitors that your company makes the effort to entertain them. Bits of trivia are an effective way to make that work.
7. Make them laugh with your choice of animation
If funny photos catch people’s attention, then animations can do that more effectively. Moving items in your site – and even on your 404 error page – will already make a difference.
Your animation may involve either a cartoon figure or a famous icon in history. You can also choose to include sound effects to please your visitors who unfortunately got redirected to your site’s 404 error page.
The trick is you have to send the message that stumbling upon your site’s 404 error page is another fun experience that will make your visitors remember your company or the service you are offering.
8. Use flowcharts
People generally find it so much easier to understand things if they see visual elements such as graphs or flowcharts. The thing about flowcharts is that you can be informative and entertaining at the same time. You only have to be very strategic in carefully putting together the information and message you would like to convey.
Since your visitors are on your 404 error page, it will be cool to show how they reached that section of your site. That way, they can trace where they made a mistake.
9. Remind them of a line or a character from a movie
Movie lines are a funny way of sending out a message especially when the character is attached to a certain idea or event. For example, The Simpsons are known for straightforward one-liners that make almost everyone laugh and think at the same time. To make this work, sense of humor should always get injected in the process.
10. Insert humor and personality
It’s a good idea to personalize your site in a way that visitors can relate to a specific person. Whether it’s the company executive or web developer, putting a person on the 404 error pages may help ease the stigma of the site error.
Better yet, introduce that person in a funny way, either through a deprecating photo or a hilarious video. Whatever your preferred presentation is, remember that combining humor and personality will always be a winning formula for an effective 404 error page.
Sending online users to 404 error pages may seem counterproductive for your site. However, if you design your 404 error pages properly, you can actually attract them better and keep them coming for more.
Bottom line, your error pages should still be able to interest your users and not discourage them from browsing further. All it takes is a bit of effort and loads of creativity to pull it off.