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17 brilliant 404 pages and why they are cool

When you end up following a dead or incorrect link or mistype a URL, you are likely to end up on a 404 error page. It doesn’t have to be a bad experience, though. We have prowled the web for funny and original takes on this classic error page. Here are 17 of the best. Let yourself be inspired!

(Note that some of the images below are partial screenshots. Click on the provided links to view the complete 404 pages.)

Chart mania

404 page

Why it’s cool: Aside from putting most of the blame on the user (big no-no), it’s a very funny cause-and-effect chart for how to deal with a 404 page.
Where you find it: http://www.nextwaveperformance.com/404

Newspaper headline

404 page

Why it’s cool: A lot of attention to detail. Apart from the 404-related spoof article, there is even the caption under the President Bush photo: “In a speech given this morning, President Bush outlined his plan to combat missing content on the Internet.” (And also note the reference, bottom right if you visit the page, to the classic “All your base are belong to us”.)
Where you find it: http://www.trinicom.com/trinicom/servererror/404.htm

Distract the user with OTHER missing items

404 page

Why it’s cool: A lot of things do go missing, so why not point it out? 🙂
Where you find it: http://www.zug.com/mp3/nothere.htm

The plain weird

404 page

Why it’s cool: It’s just plain WEIRD. Dog and duck? And we really liked the explanation text as well.
Where you find it: http://www.alphomega.co.uk/404

Blame the LAW

404 page

Why it’s cool: The sarcasm. It’s a blog about the legal system.
Where you find it: http://overlawyered.com/error.html

The very, very thorough

404 page

Why it’s cool: Now that would be looking everywhere, wouldn’t it? Keep the servers out of the bathrooms, boys and girls.
Where you find it: http://www.jibjab.com/404.html

Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy style

404 page

Why it’s cool: Douglas Adams would be proud. It has some other nice things going on as well that didn’t fit into the screenshot.
Where you find it: http://www.mikeace.com/ (This is the only one that isn’t an actual live 404 page, but all the work is there.)

The Matrix Reclined, scary baby style

404 page

Why it’s cool: Is this a very young Agent Smith from The Matrix? If you visit the actual 404 page you’ll also notice that it’s just one in a long sequence of very off-beat 404 error messages.
Where you find it: http://www.b3ta.com/asdasdasf

Real-life analogy

404 page

Why it’s cool: Elegant minimalism and a great analogy. Probably the prettiest of the bunch.

Where you find it: http://www.vi-su.de/404

The brutally honest

404 page

Why it’s cool: There’s nothing like a bit of honesty, combined with a white lie and irony (“this file was so popular we had to rename it” *cough*).
Where you find it: http://www.acromediainc.com/404

Chart mania 2

404 page

Why it’s cool: A slightly whimsy chart explaining what really happened…
Where you find it: http://rubberducky.org/404

Role-playing 404

404 page

Why it’s cool: Perfectly themed for this role-playing site.
Where you find it: http://www.d20srd.org/asdf

Page held for ransom

404 page

Why it’s cool: It’s not pretty, but the sheer audacity made us include it.
Where you find it: http://homepage.ntlworld.com/a.leecy/404.html

Blue Screen of Death

404 page

Why it’s cool: Surely we all have very fond memories of the classic Windows Blue Screen of Death…
Where you find it: http://www.galiacho.es/404

Sharks with lasers (of course)

404 page

Why it’s cool: It’s sharks. With lasers on their heads. Someone’s been watching Austin Powers.
Where you find it: http://renkoo.com/404

80’s nostalgia

404 page

Why it’s cool: Major retro vibe. Who didn’t love the C64?
Where you find it: http://www.klaus.dk/asdfasdfsd

Blame it all on Pacman

404 page

Why it’s cool: An utter stroke of genious. Blame it all on that munching Pacman!
Where you find it: http://www.amcharts.com/404/

Final notes

No matter how funny you make your 404 page, don’t forget to also be helpful. Don’t blame the user, it doesn’t have to be his/her fault and could just as likely be your fault. Provide relevant links to for example your main web page and maybe even a search box. Also make sure the user knows on which site they have ended up.

Please remember that the cause for the 404 error could potentially be an error with how the web page has been set up. Perhaps some pages have been removed (or moved) by accident while making changes. We here at Pingdom have seen this happen on numerous occasions, when web servers we monitor all of a sudden start reporting 404 errors for pages that are supposed to be there.

Great advice and inspiration about designing 404 pages can be found over at Smashing Magazine.

And may we modestly also suggest that you check out an older Pingdom article about funny 404 pages. 😉

There are as many 404 error pages as there are websites (though far from all are custom made like the ones here). Do you have a favorite 404 error page that wasn’t included here? Let us know in the comments!

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