Design, UI, UX, Inspiration

20 Creative 404 Page Examples to Drive Visitors Back on the Rails

Clever design can turn an error into a happy accident, and the 404 page is the right place to bring back the smile of your visitors.

No matter how well you plan your website in terms of broken pages or performance issues, there are some errors you simply can’t avoid. And the notorious 404 error page is exactly one of those unavoidable outcomes that your users will eventually end up seeing.

Although you can’t control 404 errors, you can still take care of your visitor’s experience and use your 404 pages to recover the inconvenience of arriving at a dead link.  Investing in a well-planned custom 404 error page shows your users that you care about them.

So let’s have a look at these 20 clever live examples that use different techniques to compensate lost visitors and turn them back on track. And in the end, we also answered people’s most common questions about 404 pages.

Update Oct 2023: The UI/UX Design Trends of 2023 are out to replace minimalism with bolder, more diverse, and more experimental digital experiences. Check them out.

10 Creative 404 Page Examples

The following live examples show websites that care about their users and manage to negate any negative emotion with cool animations, games, humor, and other memorable and unexpected content.

1. Santa Teresa: Meme Your Errors

Santa Teresa is a music festival where every place can become a performance stage. And of course, it has a fitting fun entertaining website with complex animations, vivid colors, and interactions.

404 Page Strengths:
  • Lets you know you landed on an unexisting page instantly with a big 404 label and the confused Travolta meme.
  • Great use of memes and pop culture, corresponding with the nature of the website.
  • Fun design.

Live Website: Santa TeresaDesigned by: LG2 (Canada)

2. Kim Kneipp: Mesmerizing Schematics Animation

This portfolio website represents the design director Kim Kneipp and attracts with complex design and gimmicky math animations.

404 Page Strengths:
  • Clean minimalist error page design.
  • Complex but smooth animation, related to the overall design.
  • Highlighted Back Home link.

Live Website: Kim KneippDesigned by:  Synchronized Studio (USA)

3. Dribbble: 404 Color Interaction

Dribbble is a leading community for discovering and connecting with creating souls around the globe and it’s no surprise the platform has spent great effort to make everyone’s stay enjoyable. Even the 404-page givers users a pleasant experience.

404 Page Strengths:
  • Interactive experience: users can drag the slider around and play around to change the colors of the error.
  • Extra effort: The number 404 is made of thumbnails, representing existing projects that correspond with each color,
  • That extra effort lets users know that their experience matters most.

Live Website: Dribbble

4. Brett Terpstra: Coming Up With Interesting Suggestions

Brett is the technical content writer for Oracle’s DevRel team, and he also happens to be a web developer and aims to inspire other coders f9r some coding mad science of their own. In terms of design, the website is basic and doesn’t focus on visuals, rather than pure functionality.

404 Page Strengths:
  • Fewer visuals, more content.
  • Gives users recommended articles to check out.

Live Website: Brett Terpstra Blog / Designed by:  Brett Terpstra

5. Fern: Funny Animater Error Page

Fern is an animation and design studio with a beautiful website, full of artwork and scroll animations. As expected, the 404 error page does not disappoint.

404 Page Strengths:
  • Fun error page with moving error messages and memes, corresponding with the visual style and tone of the studio.
  • Option to go back with a casual message “Looks like that page ain’t here”.

Live Website: Fern / Designed by: Fern (USA)

6. Hakim: You Shouldn’t Be Here!

Hakim El Hattab is a freelance Swedish front-end developer and interface designer. Their website is clean and professional, easy to scan and read, and it seems it’s all fun and games until you end up in a place where you shouldn’t be. You have awakened the ancient one.

404 Page Strengths:
  • The page reveals an unexpected design that has nothing to do with the website’s style.
  • It’s a fun and a very well-executed joke that subverts expectations.
  • It gives you link to the homepage, so you can go back and pretend you never saw this.

Live Website: Hakim El Hattab Portfolio/ Designed by:  Hakim El Hattab (Sweden)

7. Wildcatter: As Confused As You Are

Creative studio and production company Wildcatter has a very entertaining website with explosions and bold messages worth checking out. Have no doubt, that the creators have taken care of the smallest details, including the error page.

404 Page Strengths:
  • The studio’s creative director greets you with a surprised face. It’s fun, personal, and unexpected.
  • Big Back To Home button.

Live Website: Wildcatter / Designed by: Mubien (Spain)

8. Spotify: 404 Vynil Record Animation

Music streaming platform Spotify needs no introduction, and the same goes for its website. With a colorful clean design and minimalist visuals, even the 404 error page is a pleasure to look at.

404 Page Strengths:
  • A beautiful vinyl record animation, playing 404.
  • Non-generic 404s and Heartbreaks message.

Live Website: Spotify

9. ARCR: Bold Message in Bold Fonts

Artem Markovsky’s digital art direction studio finds its way into this list with its brutalist design with a modern twist, looking great on a 404 page.

404 Page Strengths:
  • Unexpected fun error message.
  • Giant Get Back button.

Live Website: ARCR / Designed by:  Artem Markovsky (Russia)

10. The Shift: Glitch

Japanese creative collective The Shift was created for people who desire a shift in business, organization, space, product, or service. The website follows a futuristic digital gimmick with complex transitions and glitch animations.

404 Page Strengths:
  • The error page feels like you no-clipped out of the website with nice glitch animation you can interact with.
  • The lack of a Go Back button serves to enforce the idea of entering the backrooms of the website.

Live Website: The Shift / Designed by:  Garden Eight (Japan)

Even More Amazing Examples of 404 Pages

We promised 20 examples, so here are 10 more for your inspiration. Don’t miss them out.

If that’s enough though, you can always go ahead and check some clean website designs that prove less is more exciting.

But we promise – lots of creativity and thought is put into the next 404 pages.

11. Lunchbox: A Rat Got Your Lunch

Lunchbox is an app modern ordering system for restaurants for native app and web ordering, marketing, and third-party order aggregation. The website has gimmicky custom illustrations that become easily recognizable.

404 Page Strengths:
  • Custom memorable illustration of a rat stealing your meal.
  • A custom error message that promotes the app in a very witty way: “We regret to inform you that this page does not exist. What does? About a million reasons why you should use Lunchbox.”

Live Website: Lunchbox / Designed by: Studio Freight (USA)

12. Figma: Interactive Vector

Figma is a popular design tool that helps you to create websites, applications, logos, and everything else… like an unconventional 404 error page that your users will absolutely love.

404 Page Strengths:
  • The 404 glyphs are editable vectors you can interact it and change as you would in Figma.

Live Website: Figma

13. e-Money: Interactive Tokens

Blockchain-based payment platform e-Money has a futuristic website rich in complex animations, transitions, and interactions. Although the 404 error page doesn’t strike with an interesting memorable copy, it sure does so with the visuals.

404 Page Strengths:
  • The simple message in a huge font lets users know the page does not exist and what to do next.
  • Users can play around with the interactive tokens in the background and drag them around all over the screen.

Live Website: e-Money / Designed by:  Bürocratik (Portugal)

14. Myr!ad: No Signal TV Static

Myriad is a video production agency for tech and social impact that decided to give users some immersion with a clever 404 error page.

404 Page Strengths:
  • Immersive No Signal static animation indicating the website lost connection to your page.

Live Website: Myriad / Designed by: 14islands (Sweden)

15. Orangecoat: Quizzing Lost Internet Travellers

This is probably the most unconventional 404 page example, bringing something new and unexpected to the table. The error page catches happy internet travelers by surprise and apologizes for the error with a small diagram quiz. Each question leads to a step-by-step solution, based on the FAQ.

404 Page Strengths:
  • Unconventional 404 page meant to greet happy internet travelers and apologize with an unexpected small quiz.
  • Offers solutions and funny answers.

Live Website: Orange Coat

16. Blizzard: A Rescue Murloc Has Been Dispatched

You bet a creative game developing company such as Blizzard will never miss an opportunity to strike with something geeky and bring a smile to fellow gamers.

404 Page Strengths:
  • The page features an animation of Murloc, a popular character from WoW.
  • A clever message, stating they’re dispatching Murloc to bring you back to safety.

Live Website: Blizzard Entertainment

17. Vecteezy: Try Search For Something Else

Vecteezy is a stock vector platform that offers free and premium vector graphics for creators to use in their projects. As much as the database is huge, sometimes there might not be any graphics corresponding to the user’s keywords. When this happens, you’ll meet this adorable astronaut floating in space, still searching for your keywords.

404 Page Strengths:
  • Takes responsibility for not finding the graphics you want.
  • A cute simple animation.
  • The option to search for similar keywords and still find a suitable graphic for your project.

Live Website: Vecteezy

18. Humbleteam: Humble and Inspiring Message

Humbleteam makes great use of symbolism to bring smiles to users’ faces. Landing on a 404 error page is a disaster and the illustration clearly shows this with a broken TV on fire and a traffic cone while the character responsible is sleeping on duty. A clever way to own a mistake. In addition, the page also includes an inspiring message that states “Welcome to our humble 404 page. We made it specially for you as a reminder that not everything in life works out. But somehow, most things do, in the end.”

404 Page Strengths:
  • Clever animation with symbolism and humor.
  • An inspiring message and the option to go back.

Live Website: Humbleteam

19. MailChimp: Cute Animated Illustration

MailChimp is an email marketing platform that prioritizes user experience. The website offers a clever simple animation of a hand-drawn horse searching in the hole to the void for your lost page.

404 Page Strengths:
  • Simple and clever animation.
  • Taking responsibility for the error.
  • A CTA button brings you back home.

Live Website: MailChimp

20. Sketch: The Truth is Out There

Sketch has ditched the overused corporate style and capitalizes on a more friendly and casual tone with 90s flicks references.

404 Page Strengths:
  • Fun casual animation and copy, referencing X-Files, a favorite popular show from the 90s.
  • High-quality illustration and smooth animation.
  • Gives users options to return or visit the support center.

Live Website: Sketch

What Else Do You Need to Know About 404 Pages?

Let’s refresh some knowledge quickly by walking through the 404 error page basics and finding out why such a humble page has become such an important part of every web design.

👉 Why Might a Visitor Land on a 404 Page?

The 404-page error indicates that a user wants to access a page that can’t be found on the server. Make sure you update any broken links across your website to avoid this error.
However, there are still factors that aren’t your fault and you can’t predict.

For instance, this HTTP status code appears in case users:

  • Insert the wrong URL in their browser.
  • Insert a broken URL.
  • Attempt to access a page that no longer exists.
  • Attempt to access a page that has been moved and wasn’t redirected.
  • The website’s server is down.

Getting forwarded to a 404 page is the last thing any user wants. It’s important to make sure your 404 page is professional and either redirects your visitors where they want to go or gives them a good experience that makes up for the error.

👉 What should be on a 404 page?

When you plan your custom 404 page, consider including the following elements:

  • Error message: Your users should be able to know immediately that they’ve landed on a 404 error page.
  • CTA or a search: Allow your users to know what they should do next. A CTA button tells them the next step, while a search bar helps them to take initiative.
  • Recommended links: You can also promote your best content on your 404 page by giving your users a small list of links to choose from.
  • Brand Feel: The best way to show you own your mistakes is to put your name. Every custom error page includes the brand logo and matches the look of the rest of the website.

👉 What are the benefits of having a custom 404 page vs a generic one?

The problem with generic 404 error pages is that when users land on them they might think your website does not exist. In contrast, custom 404 error pages have your branding and match your website. This lets users know that your website exists, but there was an error in their request. So here comes the opportunity to turn the negative error situation into a positive experience. Unlike the generic 404 error page, a custom page can guide users back to the website. Here’s how:

  📜 Custom message: You can get creative and win your visitors over with a witty error message.

  🍿 Add humor: The best way to make people like you is to make them laugh. Memes, fun quotes, and jokes go a long way.

  💻 Links to the website: A good practice is to include your header and footer links on your 404 page.

  🔍 Search bar: Allow your users to search for the content they came for.

  🏄 Interactive experience: Add interesting UX interactions that your visitors will appreciate. It can be a small game (remember Google Chrome’s Dinosaur game?), an option to interact with graphic elements on the page, an option to draw, etc.

You Want and You Need a Custom 404 Page

Ideally, your users won’t need to see your 404 error page.

In reality, however, they will inevitably land on one, so investing in a good custom 404 error page will help your visitors recover from the poor experience and ultimately help you bring them back to your website.

We hope these 20 hand-picked examples gave you some great ideas to up your error page game and make sure you turn an error into a happy accident.

In the meantime, why not get more inspiration from some of the related articles:

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