We’ve all clicked on a link or type in a URL and presto, nothing but the dreaded 404 error message appears. It’s frustrating. However, the design of the 404 error message makes a big difference in your frustration level.
Annoyance can turn to laughter, or maybe just a smile, if the 404 error message takes a “make ’em laugh,” or at least smile, approach.
404 error messages have been around for a while and have even become a part of popular culture. During the Greek pro-democracy riots in 2011, the slogan was “Error 404. No democracy found.”
As a kind of in-joke, in Quentin Tarantino’s movie “Four Rooms,” stars Madonna and Antonio Banderas check into a wacky hotel and go looking for a party in Room 404. To their consternation, they find something completely different instead. Get it?
Here are some of the funniest, sometimes laugh-out-loud, error messages of 2014. Spoiler warning: Some of them get really irritating if you overstay your welcome.
A screaming goat? Yes. This error message from Bluegg in the United Kingdom gives you the bad news and cuts to a video of a goat in a windy, deserted farm yard.
Then the creature begins screaming like a scary movie heroine scared witless by a monster. After a minute or two, the video begins to get really irritating, but you should be long gone by then.
With laughs from Tin Sanity, this 404 error message features a frantic, moaning milkshake with giant bloodshot eyes, backed by a rhythmic drum beat.
What’s more, the drink whizzes back and forth across the screen, first in front of the “You’ve Been 404’d” message in super size and then behind the message in miniature.
It’s like a title sequence from a 1960s movie, all fright and outrage. Like the screaming goat, it tends to get old fast. So, chuckle and then beat a hasty retreat.
Go Away, Stupid
This 404 error message from Homestarrunner.com features a crudely drawn cartoon of an angry man shooting arrows out of his mouth and into a tortured stick figure.
An angrily scribbled message tells you that you must be really stupid and obviously have gotten it totally wrong. After telling you how totally stupid you are several times, the message ends simply with “go away.”
From Huwshimi.com, this message has a classic graphic of a stylized tree, pounding rain, a running man and the nonsensical message “A Ninja stole this page. You must return when the moon has friends and the fox is borrowed.” In other words, abandon all hope. It is subtle, but effective.
The Lego 404 error message is smile worthy. It showcases a giant red, yellow and blue Lego figure holding an unplugged cord. Behind the figure, a pirate, a workman and a clown pull faces and generally make a fuss.
Lonely Hearts Ad
From LimpFish, this error message mimics a lonely hearts’ ad. It begins “Desperately Seeking HTML. Straight website (28) seeks long lost website for good time.” It ends with a simple request: “Photo please.”
This comes under the heading “cute.” The 404 error message features a cute little fat fish bobbing away in the water, overseen by a seagull. It’s soothing and smile worthy.
Funny and cute 404 Error Messages can take the edge off the irritation you feel when you land on them. Perhaps it’s a trend other page designers should follow.