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Wednesday, Jul. 25, 2007 at 12:26 pm

Flipping the 404 Pancake

By Robert Gorell
July 25th, 2007

There are infinite ways to keep visitors engaged with your website — whether the experience itself is broken or the person visiting it has issues. Smashing Magazine highlights some of the best “404 error” messages around, with some great ideas for flipping a potentially negative impression into a positive one.

Anyone have a custom 404 message they’d like to share?

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Comments (15)

  1. 404 error pages can also be great to leverage your SEO efforts. If you put up a new site and forgot to do 301 redirects for all of your URLs, this 404 page can be used to (hopefully) capitalize on some of that traffic instead of deadlinks.

  2. A custom 404 page is worth the efforts.

    Now, if ya’ll nice Grok folks would fix the nasty Javascript error that shows in my browser (IE7+WinXPpro) on every page of your site !! (I’ve reported it a few times already!)

  3. if i find WITHOUT a custom 404 error page, can i get a free website review????

    what do you say Bryan?

  4. Mitchell,

    We have tried to recreate your error using the same setup and have not been able to. Maybe you have some other configuration issue. Does any one else with a (IE7+WinXPpro) see a Javascript error on our pages?

  5. Rick,

    Both Futurenowinc and GrokDotCom have custom 404 pages (although’s needs to be updated). The case of the cobbler’s kid.

  6. i just checked it again and there is NO 404 error page?

    i typed in

  7. i just found it interesting…….

  8. Rick,

    Sorry something must have happened because it is working again. I have the wet noodle out to punish our IT folk. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

  9. You now have a very nice looking custom 404 error page. I have been interested in getting a Usability & heuristic analysis done on my website. I was told you guys only do something more involved, Persuasion Architecture. What I really need is someone to help me figure out how best to categorize my items and site layout, not really how to setup and use the Google optimizer. Since I am a smaller retailer, compared to Wal-Mart or Overstock, think you could offer me a reward since I found this missing page for you and saved you billions of dollars, I am sure…….

    Like a reward…… even still you guys are a good company and I greatly enjoyed your book ‘Call to Action’.

    Let me know………………thanks.

  10. Rick,

    I knew we were asking for it with this post, so let’s not get carried away in terms of expectations. It was defaulting to a pretty handsome Site Map rather than the 404, but still… You called it, so congrats :)

    That being said, your request has been noted. We’ll surprise you if and when it happens.

    (By the way, in addition to full Web/multi-channel strategy planning, we offer a range of website analysis services — all of which are driven by Persuasion Architecture and are clearly actionable in terms of fixing your site.)

  11. Hey Bryan,

    What about a great deal on a Grande and Venti Conversion Optimization?

    Robert mentioned above, ‘We’ll surprise you if and when it happens.’ I am not sure what that means? Are you guys going to fix me up? :-)

    The blank server page was the default 404 error page on, the site map page you speak of was the custom 404 page on the site, I checked both sites.

  12. Rick,

    I was talking about something like this, which is what I’m sure you meant originally since you commented on the very post I just linked to.

    We don’t play favorites with pricing for our clients, so please don’t push it. Besides, the original point of this post is to share some advice that everyone — ourselves included — should follow. We don’t claim that our websites are perfect, but we do take our own medicine. Everything is a work in progress, which you would definitely realize as soon as you received that Venti Conversion Optimization you’re considering. Those services are about maximizing ROI, so there would be no point in us lowering the price. We’d have to cheapen the service to do so, and we won’t. It’s about value.

    Anyway, I think you should go for it.

  13. Here is an engaging one I found recently . Of course there is nothing to do once you see it though.

  14. Bryan,

    If you click on the 404 sign, you go into the main site. Still, it’s hidden, and there are tons of weird usability issues once you actually get to the homepage.

    That being said, whoever designed it is a Flash genius. Doesn’t quite help you learn about the movie, though!

  15. When we redesigned this site from scratch we knew we would get alot of search traffic to pages that didn’t exist anymore, so we created this 404 page that helps visitors find what they came to the site looking for:

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