Modern approaches to university 404 error pages
Trying to get a snapshot of UK university homepages last week, I inadvertently screengrabbed the error page generated by 133 of them. 404 error pages have for a long time been an opportunity for websites to try something different. Here’s a few approaches that stood out:
1. Birkbeck and Chester suggest an alternative
Birkbeck give suggestions based on your query. For example, an incorrect url of www.bbk.ac.uk/football, provided links to events, images and articles related to ‘football’. Chester also do something very similar, explicitly generating a set of results from their internal search.
2. BCU remind you ‘do not panic!’…
3. …whilst Bedfordshire are embarrassed
4. Cambridge ‘need time to evolve’
5. A chance to perform
We often see a different approach from the performing arts institutions. Royal Central School of Speech & Drama and the Royal College of Music take the opportunity to illustrate their error messages with images from student performances.
6. St Andrews look to the sea
7. Big and Bold
Gloucestershire have one of the brightest and boldest site designs in the sector and they use their 404 page to further stamp their personality.
8. Soften the message with a handwritten note
Portsmouth go for a handwritten typeface (Tekton?) to deliver the bad news.
9. Enlist the help of meerkats
University of South Wales use a photo of meerkats. Everyone likes meerkats.
10. Swansea hit a brick wall
11. Spell it out
UCLAN seem particularly pleased to be letting you know you’ve generated an error.
12. Uh oh! Echo!
Both Bournemouth and Wolverhampton go down the ‘Uh oh’ route.
13. Aston are puzzled
14. Bath and Edinburgh Napier lose their way