Page 404: Page Not Found, but a Lesson Learnt

Renny Gleeson, a media strategist and a TED speaker, humorously puts across the story of Page 404, an error page that pops up when a web page is not found.

When users hit page 404, Renny says, they experience disappointment. A 404 page feels like a “broken relationship” and “falling through the cracks”, according to him. These pages are found on all websites- big and small, making it a global phenomenon. However, when the user expects something but finds nothing, it causes damage to the business-user relationship.

Renny also talks about instances where creative 404 pages were put up, and used as leverage to build and improve relationships with users. This turned into a 24 hour contest among start ups at Renny’s technology incubator – the idea took shape after an extreme athletic services website came up with a very interesting 404 page. The website embedded a video in the 404 page that was funny and entertaining, which got every other start up thinking of innovative ways to make the 404 error amusing. As the contest progressed, more and more websites started having interactive and engaging 404 pages. The prize of this contest was not only $404 in cash, but also, a valuable lesson – “Little things, done right, matter” and “well designed moments can build brands”

These little gestures help in building your brand as well as relationships with users. There are plenty examples of error pages that have converted this default into an opportunity. By going the extra mile businesses can reinforce trust and remind their users that they care.