Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Creative use of errors

Today, I was browsing the web and came upon this entry in The Responsible Marketing Blog about 404 "page not found" errors. 404 error pages pop up when you are trying to find a webpage and it's been moved or maybe you typed in the address wrong and the page can't be found on the server. I'll admit, I've never given these error messages any thought. Until now.

Did you know that you can customize the error pages that people find on your website? Last year, Smashing Magazine ran a contest to find the most creative 404 error pages out there. People came up with all sorts of responses and Smashing Magazine displayed some of them in their Design Showcase called 404 Error Pages: Reloaded. Some of the pages are funny, some use poetry to let you know that you are lost, and still others sympathize with your plight.

What I like best about creative 404 error pages is that they allow the computer-savvy to reach out to the computer-phobic and help them feel more comfortable with web surfing. This is great because scientific discovery -- really, any time we try something new -- is all about trial and error. We're all going to make errors. But if the "teachers" use a little creativity and kindness, the "students" will learn that making mistakes can be a fun and useful learning experience.

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