Do you let me know what kind of content I should put in the error-page like "404 page not found"?


"Unfortunately an error has occurred during the processing of your page request."

"Page Not Found! Check the URL"

"Sorry an error has occurred! Please Try again."

"We're sorry, we couldn't find the page you requested."

The content should be target user perspective. Means that target user should easily understand what's happening and what he should do?

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    I think all but the last one you mention are definite no-nos. Saying "an error has occured" is meaningless, doesn't tell the user the page doesn't exist. Saying check the url after an exclamation mark is rather rude, and telling them to "try again" is just flat out misleading - the page doesn't exist, trying again will just have them seeing the same error until they leave your site in frustration. – TZHX Feb 10 '11 at 10:23
  • actually for me a simple "Page not found: 404" is all I need to see in order to know what the problem is. It sais it all, no? – stijn Feb 10 '11 at 10:44
  • @stijn - for non-technical users, this can seem like techno-babble. What does the 404 mean? Did it try and look 404 times and give up? Are there 404 pages on the website and this is not one of them? ... – TZHX Feb 10 '11 at 11:05
  • @TZHX: techno-babble, sure, but shouldn't we be realistic? what's the chance that even the most non-techincal user has never ever seen a 404? Also it's not like there are many ways in which one can interpret "Page not found". On the other hand, I guess it doesn't hurt being more verbose. Although I find the "We did, however, find this program" on the stackoverflow pretty bad. If even I think "what program?" I guess it's totally confusing for noobs. – stijn Feb 10 '11 at 11:44
  • @stijn - even if they know what it is, a line of text "Error 404: Page not found" doesn't really give the user a way of recovering from their error. At least giving the user some options, as suggested in @ChrisF's answer, provides a better user experience than forcing them to go to the address bar. – TZHX Feb 10 '11 at 12:01

The Stack Overflow not found page is quite a good example.

It states:

We couldn't find the page you requested.

Neutral in tone so it's not implying that the user is at fault.

It then has links to the search page, recent questions and popular tags. It also has a link to allow the user to contact the team.

So you need to do the following:

  1. Add a link to the search page
  2. Add a link to the "contact us" page.
  3. Add links to popular/potentially useful pages elsewhere in your application.
  • +1, Pretty much the answer I was in the middle of posting. Basically you want to let the user know there is a problem, briefly explain what it is and, most importantly, give them some options for recovering. – Jake Feb 10 '11 at 10:14
  • +1 - pretty much what I would have said, though I've never encountered the SO one, so wouldn't have made that reference. – TZHX Feb 10 '11 at 10:23

Take a look at 70 Unique 404 examples. There are great design examples! Other good examples can be found here.

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    +1 That's an awesome collection of beautiful pages - most of them make me want to go visit their websites. – JBRWilkinson Feb 10 '11 at 14:09

It all about the content of the site. If it's a profssional site than I would like to see a simple 404 message with the search textbox or link to the home page. If it's a funky site, I would love to see some funny messages, because I am in a mood to enjoy.

In brief, it's all about content in your site. :-)

  • Content does matter for the look. Nice suggestion – Zerotoinfinity Feb 19 '11 at 21:13

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