Designing 404 pages might not be your first priority when you're creating a new website, and with a bit of luck your users won't often encounter them when browsing. But a stellar 404 page can be an effective tool for conveying your brand identity, entertaining visitors and keeping them on your site rather than clicking away in annoyance. Of course, you don't actually want visitors to find themselves there at all but adding some personality and clever design can add a silver lining to an error.
These awesome 404 pages use innovative UX, humour, stunning design or even games to negate any irritation for the user and make them memorable and shareable. You could add some CSS animation or cool parallax scrolling, but sometimes all you need is some entertaining copy.. We've chosen our favourite examples below to provide inspiration to help you think outside the box with your own designs.
The best 404 pages
Netflix has a whole host of content to pick from for its 404 page, (opens in new tab) and it has appropriately included a full page still from the movie Lost in Space. The site asks, "lost your way?" and provides a clear button to take you back to the homepage. The only improvement we could imagine would be to provide a range of films like IMDB does (see it further down the list) so you never know which one you're going to get.
The candy company utilises its characters for its 404 page (opens in new tab). When stumbling upon the 404 page, you are met by a worried looking m&m, who is facing down the trouble alongside you. This simple graphic reinforces the m&m branding and raises a smile before you head back to safety.
A good 404 page should convey a brand's personality. Marie Kondo has become hugely popular for her cleaning and organisation tips and products, and the copy on her site's 404 page (opens in new tab) humorously espouses that same philosophy of clearing out clutter. It's a small, concise detail that fans will immediately recognise.
Marvel's has multiple versions of its 404 pages, which are (of course) all themed around the MCU. We've spotted references to Hydra (one of which is above) and the eye of Utau, to name just a couple. Check out the Marvel 404 page (opens in new tab) to see which one you get.
The Lego 404 page (opens in new tab) is pretty simple but exudes personality. The Lego man's horrified expression, plus the push on a brand tagline ('everything is still awesome') creates an error page experience you're not sorry you stumbled into.
A play on words will get you far, which is why we appreciate Omlet (opens in new tab)'s approach to its 404 page. The creative company's page says 'this page is eggstinct' as an animated egg crack takes over the screen. The bright red colour shows that this a 'warning' while the egg theme fits in with Omlet's name. What's not to like?
07. Mantra Labs
This 404 page from Mantra Labs (opens in new tab) is simple yet effective. An illustration of a space person floating into the '404' accompanies text saying 'Oops! You ran out of oxygen'. There's also a timer counting down to you being directed back to the homepage. If you blinked, you might even miss this 404 page, though it's worth going wrong on purpose just to visit it.
08. Ready to go survival
We all love a good movie reference within a 404 page (and there are several of them included in our list). This survival site refers to The Matrix in its 404 page (opens in new tab) and gives you two options: clicking the red or the blue pill. Naturally, both keep you on the site.
This car buying comparison site helps you find the perfect car, but when you go off course, its 404 page provides a clever on-theme way to keep you on site. Visitors are presented with an 8-bit game style screen. All you need to do is hit the Start text to enjoy the simple horizontal scrolling game, where all you need to do is avoid obstacles and other cars. Give Carwow's 404 page (opens in new tab) a try.
Ueno is a full-service agency with a standout 404 page. What you're seeing above doesn't capture the full effort that's gone into it: the hotdog is animated so it runs in an infinite loop through a surreal landscape, and there are several hilarious explanatory messages to explore. It's bonkers and totally unique – visit the Ueno error page here. (opens in new tab)
Gym Box is a gym company that aims to offer "the most unique and diverse classes in London". The limits of that claim might be the kind of magnificent '80s fitness spectacle that appears on its 404 page (opens in new tab). Short shorts, crop tops and pelvic thrusting – what more could you want from an error page?
It's only a slight exaggeration to say that Slack's 2019 logo update was met with widespread horror, and its super-saccharine 404 page is sure to have its fair share of haters too. Go wrong in Slack, and you're directed to a magical landscape of lush foliage, mountains and rainbows, where butterflies, chickens and tiny little pigs roam free. The scene scrolls horizontally with your mouse movement, too (try Slack's 404 page here (opens in new tab)).
13. Purée Maison
Purée Maison is a creative agency specialising in communication strategy, and its characterful website is full of delightful animations (we'd recommend taking a look around (opens in new tab)). We're particular fans of this surreal 404 page, which somehow manages to perfectly capture the pain of hitting a digital wall.
Some people can take things just a little too much to heart. Pixar's 404 page (opens in new tab), featuring Sadness from 2015's hugely popular Inside Out, is simple, straightforward and does the job. If it's representative of your reaction to getting a 404 error, though, then maybe you need to re-examine your life a little.
15. 20th Century Studios
Can't find the film you want? The rebranded 20th Century Studios (previously 20th Century Fox) has a great way to inspire you for when you get a URL wrong; its 404 page pops up with a still from a cult movie, with a pithy caption and a selection of other films you might like to watch. We've spotted snippets from Edward Scissorhands, Revenge of the Nerds and Napoleon Dynamite, amongst others (take a look at the 404 page (opens in new tab) to see which one you get).
16. Cloud Sigma
Cloud Sigma is a cloud server and cloud hosting service operating in the US, Europe and Asia-Pacific region. While flexible cloud servers are useful, they're not exactly fun, which we guess is why the company has made a little extra effort to inject some humour into its tongue-in-cheek 404 error page (opens in new tab). We wonder how long it'll be before this helpful-looking junior developer gets poached by the competition.
Another website to use humour on its 404 error page is Atlanta-based data strategy consulting firm BluePath. The 404 page (opens in new tab) shows a map of Atlanta, with a dot on the other side of the page indicating the visitor is 'Wayyyy off the map'. In an extremely tenuous link, the map also includes data-driven info showing reported crimes in the area. "Why? Because it’s a crime you haven’t hired us for yet!" Ah, these whacky data analysts.
18. Kualo(opens in new tab)
Web hosting company Kualo has been in business for over 15 years – an eternity in internet time – and its 404 page harks back to yesteryear by treating visitors to a game of Kualo-themed Space Invaders. It's not perfect. The key strategy of picking off the fleet's outer edges to slow the invaders' descent doesn't work, for starters. But it is fun, and it can earn you a discount on your hosting deal if you manage to score over 1,000 points. Play Kualo's game here (opens in new tab).
Its inclusion in this article has also inspired US pest control company Pointe Pest Control to include its own Pest Invaders game on its 404 error page (opens in new tab), complete with different flying and crawling bugs to spray.
As Chloe Zollinger from Pointe says: "Reaching a 404 error page is most often frustrating for a site user. We understand how important user experience on a webpage is. To better our visitors' experience, our team dedicated themselves to creating an interactive game on our 404 page."
19. Steve Lambert(opens in new tab)
New York-based artist Steve Lambert describes this as "the most awkward 404 not found page on the internet", and you know, he may well be right. It features an excruciating piece to camera (opens in new tab) that just goes on and on. We defy you to get to the end of his video without any part of your body clenching.
Next page: More inspiring 404 pages to explore