Web designFeature

30 brilliantly designed 404 error pages

Clicking on a broken link is a pain, but a witty and well-designed error page at least sweetens the pill. Here are some designs to inspire you.

If you're working on how to start a blog or website, don't forget the all-important 404 page – a standard response code in HTTP telling the user, in effect, that they've clicked on a broken link.

It's traditionally been an immense source of frustration, but in recent years, creatives have taken up the challenge of designing bespoke 404 pages that at least sweeten the pill of finding you're in the wrong place.

 

When done really well, they become mini-ambassadors for the website itself, being shared on Twitter and blogs as an example of the site or service's keenness for customer service and unique approach to design. The 30 we present here have achieved all this and more, so take a look and be inspired to create your own bespoke 404 pages!

01. Bluegg

 Bluegg
This noisy chap provides a hilarious notification that you're in the wrong place

The 404 page of creative and digital design agency is simple, but so effective. Upon loading, you're greeted by a goat, who lets out the most almighty high-pitched scream, alerting you that the page doesn't exist. The inner child in us emerged and we must admit to playing this repeatedly, while crying a little with laughter. Bravo, guys.

02. Hot Dot Production

 Hot Dot Production
Hot Dog's 404 page is seriously addictive

Hot Dot Productions has applied it's 'where design meets technology' tagline to its impressive 404 page, which features the three numbers made up of hundreds of tiny dots that change direction in response to mouse movements. Seriously cool.

03. Airbnb

 AirBNB
If you drop ice cream on the floor, clean it up, right?

This 404 page from couch-surfing behemoth Airbnb features a delightful animation that holds lessons for us all about ice cream and the inadvisability of dropping your ice cream. It also brings to mind press stories about people who rented out their homes on Airbnb, only to come back to a disaster area. Look, if you drop ice cream on the floor, clean it up, right?

04. Lego

 Lego
Lego can do no wrong in our eyes – we love this cute little tableau for its website's 404 page

In general, Lego can do no wrong in our eyes, and we love this cute little tableau for its website's 404 page, which proves that you don't need a lot of technical-sounding text to get your error message across.

05. Magnt

 Magnt
Magnt's clever 404 page demonstrates both a keen sense of wit, and a clear call to action

Magnt enables you to create a business card themed web page in minutes. Its clever 404 page demonstrates both a keen sense of wit, and a clear call to action to take you where you need to be.

06. GitHub

 GitHub
What better way to appeal to geeks than a simple Star Wars parody with parallax effect

Coding website GitHub is the home of geeks, and what better way to appeal to geeks than a simple Star Wars parody with parallax effect when you move your mouse? GitHub also has a nice 500 page for when the server breaks.

07. Blue Fountain Media

 Blue Fountain Media
Wanna play doubles, mate?

It's hard to get over the inevitable disappointment of coming up against a 404 page, but Blue Fountain Media has something that might just cheer you up in the form of a game of Pac-Man played out in a 404-shaped maze. We'll be honest, the 404 shape doesn't work that well (although it's no worse than Google's Pac-Man doodle), but it didn't stop us from giving this a thorough researching.

08. CSS Ninjas

 CSS Ninjas
CSS Ninjas is another example of the web design world's love of ninjas

Another example of the web design world's love of ninjas, this 404 page features a nice simple illustration that reflects the site's general  approach to design.

09. Daniel Karcher Film Design Studios

 Daniel Karcher
This 404 page employs a beautifully rendered subway station complete with empty train that rolls in

This site makes excellent use of animation including sound, and its 404 page employs a beautifully rendered subway station complete with empty train that rolls in. As with many of the examples here, the page diverges from the overall site aesthetic to great effect.

10. MailChimp

404 pages
Don't make the monkey angry...

The designers at ultra-hip email newsletter service MailChimp have morphed the company's well-known monkey into a Hulk-type character, complete with animated smoke, to signify a broken link. The style of the 404 page fits the rest of the site design nicely, reflecting the same lighthearted approach that makes an otherwise boring task into something fun and endearing.

11. Hakim El Hattab

 Hakim
These creepy eyes follow your cursor around the page

A 404 page designed for .net magazine, this time by Hakin El Hattab, this HTML5 experiment features creepy eyes that follow your cursor around the page with occasional blinking and narrowing of the iris. Brilliantly executed and nicely interactive.

12. Tin Sanity

 Tin Sanity
This dancing cup and straw screams its way across the page around the text

Tin Sanity features an incredible animation, involving a dancing cup and straw, that screams its way across the page around the text: "You just got 404'd". The screaming is accentuated with a drumroll and funky bass soundtrack, all of which leaves an excellent impression (although the website itself is currently empty).

13. Audiko

 Audiko
This 404 page is worth a visit just for the artwork!

The free ringtone-making service's 404 page features a beautifully rendered illustration of London, including the obligatory red bus and telephone box, as well as Big Ben's Tower, Sherlock Holmes and a hint of Tower Bridge. The site's worth a visit just for the artwork!

14. Bret Victor

 Bret Victor
This is not a page. It's a picture of something that's not a page. Or is it?

Bret Victor's 404 page, inspired of course by René Magritte's iconic painting, 'The Treachery of Images', confronts the viewer with some challenging philosophical questions. If this is not a page, then what is it? What constitutes a 'page'? Is it a thing that can be truly said to exist? What is the 'this' that this apparent non-page is referring to? Is anything truly real? Makes you think, no?

15. Home Star Runner

 Home Star Runner
This 404 page features amusing characters, downloads and shouts "404'd" at you

Audio can be very effective when combined with visuals on a web page, especially as we're still in the early days of reliable audio-in-a-page. This error page for Home Star Runner, which features amusing characters, downloads, and games, shouts "404'd" at you when you first arrive on the page. And the hand-drawn illustration fits the rest of the site well in terms of style and theme.

Next page: 15 more brilliant 404 pages...

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