Website up-time -- the amount of time a business' website is up and functioning -- is an important metrics for marketers and IT professionals to track. But no matter how many resources you put into ensuring your website never, ever, ever goes down ... your website will totally still go down.
It's a bummer, but a fact of life. And the reaction of visitors when they land on your temporarily unavailable website can run the gamut from "taking it in stride" to "totally losing their minds." There's nothing you can do about the latter, but for everyone else, you can make your website down time a little less of a pain by having a funny, whimsical, creative error 404 message. You know, something other than the boring message most other websites display.
To get your creative juices flowing, this post will display some of our favorite website error pages. Hopefully you'll be able to take away a few ideas to snazz up your own 404 message!
Digg is a social news website that gathers news from across the Internet and compiles it on one website for readers. Since people depend on Digg for a lot of their news, they use this funny message whenever they are down. Time for us to learn how many of our readers are Oregon Trail fans ... just imagine the bizarre segmentation possibilities!
Source: Apple II Bits
Having a problem with Tumblr? Blame the Tumbeasts! (Awww!) The creative cartoon, created by The Oatmeal, is how Tumblr adorably tells you their website is down. Darn Tumbeasts, eatin' up all the servers.
Remember Google Wave? No? Well, back in 2009 Google created Google Wave to combine email, instant messaging, wikis, web chat, social networking, and project management. Since they nixed it in 2010, I don't think you'd be stumbling across this particular 404 page anytime soon, but they did the right thing putting it up for a spell while people were still looking for the product. Chillax brah, you got Google+ now.
Source: Village Voice Blog
Blippy was a website that allowed users to share their reviews of products and services. Before it was taken down in May 2011, it used this creative image to tell users it was unavailable.
Grooveshark takes their error message one step further than some of the other websites by providing a short story about why Pickles, the giant panda, is the cause of their website being inactive. Not only do users get a laugh, but they get an entertaining story. And a pun.
Source: Flickr, rowast
Reddit gathers stories from across the internet and lets users vote whether or not the story should be ranked higher on the webpage. As a content-based business, it makes sense they'd have a great 404 page! They want to make sure users are engaged and entertained, even when they can't provide their usual content.
Source: National Post
Mint.com is a website that gathers all of your financials in one place, helping you create and maintain a budget. Kinda important stuff. So when people can't access important financial information, they can get very angry very fast. That's why it's appropriate Mint take one of the funniest approaches I've seen to try to lighten the mood and introduce viewers to other web pages they can visit in the meantime. My vote's for Justin.
Source: How Interactive Design
Taptaptap is a company that 1) creates apps for your iPhone, and 2) knows that everyone loves funny baby pictures. So they wisely have selected this hilarious picture to apologize for their website being down. After all, iPhone owners are used to quick and efficient experiences, so they do not have a lot of patience for webpages that aren't working ... but it's easier to let it slide when this is the image that appears.
Source: Brand Infection
Twitter's error message might be the most famous of all. When Twitter service is unavailable, the Twitter fail whale makes an appearance. The fail whale is almost as well known (maybe more?) as the Twitter bird!
It happens to us too! This is the message we put up -- an image of Tom Cattaneo, our 'IT Godfather' -- to tell our site visitors there are some website issues. Thanks for being such a lovable (albeit if our site's down, probably very stressed out) 404 message, Tom.
What other companies have creative error messages when their websites are down?
Image credit: ghostcero