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Chiltern House Business Centre
45 Station Road, Henley-on-Thames
Oxfordshire, RG9 1A

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Landing on a 404 error message and you’re laughing about it?

6 December 2017

Whether it is fat finger syndrome or a website error, sometimes it happens… the dreaded 404 error message.

When it does, and let us assure you it will from time to time, be ready to try and keep your user engaged and in good humour. 404 errors occur when no page was found on the server for a certain page (URL). This can occur when you remove links, move pages and do not change the URL, or mistype the URL.

When a mistake has been made, acknowledge it and maybe help the user along with a bit of humour so they do not bounce off your website in frustration. By having a bit of creative humour in your error messages it may deflect users frustrations and entice them to click back or click a redirect link rather than leave your website. You have worked hard to create an amazing experience for your users – keep it up even when it is going wrong.

Here are some a little left of centre messages we have seen that put a smile on our faces.

Image sources:, via Flickr Gustavo da Cunha Pimenta, Tripomatic and Lego

Key takeaways

  • There is a time and a place to use creative humour in any message, make sure you only use humorous pages where they belong
  • They can be fun and put a smile on users face and in the same sentence they can annoy and frustrate your users – consider any trade offs
  • Ensure you keep the tone and language appropriate to your target audience and align this with your overall website design and architecture
  • Don’t be afraid to be creative and cheeky, just ensure it aligns with your business communication strategy and branding guidelines
  • Talk to your website designer, who will help your 404 error message stand out for the right reasons and explore design opportunities (cartoons, graphs, video, gifs, memes, quotes and so on)
    Above all, sometimes a 404 happens, try to make the most of it.