A comedy of (website) errors

404 error

Landing on an error page is a bit like lifting the veil and seeing the infrastructure underneath the glittering and smooth perfection of your website’s surface.

You thought you were going somewhere and instead you find yourself somewhere else. And all because someone forgot to update a link or to download an update. It is frustrating.

And yet, well designed error pages offer the opportunity to guide the user towards a solution. Creative error pages can have your user smile at the screen in acknowledgement. Error pages that are well designed, creative and engaging will have your user posting your error page on social media and coming back for more.

Take the 404 error message on the website of the Association for Computing Machinery (University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign) for example. Someone with a great sense of humour transformed the 404 error page into a depressed web server monologue about its sad existence. I don’t know how old it is (I first saw it several years ago), what I know is that I have read the entire monologue many times and I don’t remember any more how many times I have posted and shared that error page with friends.

It is with this frame of mind that I am working at the error pages of my website. I do not anticipate much traffic on those pages (that wouldn’t be good) but should it happen – as it will – that a link is broken or a protocol isn’t running as smoothly as supposed, I want to give the user something to take away a bit of the disappointment that always comes when landing on an error page.

Being my website mainly about my activity as a storytelling sound artist, sound and storytelling will play a big part. I have already a couple of ideas, but I don’t want to spoil them by revealing them.

Web designers Jen and Ben have been really patient, waiting for me to send content and to approve drafts, and I working my way through. We are almost there. Almost ready to wander in error land.

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