Page not found. Have the testcard instead.

BBC error page

We’ve all done it: followed a link from a website, only to be met with those three words of dread: page not found. How frustrating – particularly if you clicked a really juicy-sounding link to get there.

When you get misdirected in this way, it’s doubly annoying if you hit a total dead end. No links, no search box and no navigation? All you can do is give up and retrace your steps by clicking back.

Kudos, then, to websites which turn the humble page not found message into something useful and entertaining.

Take the BBC’s effort. With a friendly message explaining what happened, a link to the main site navigation and a search box there are plenty of places to go next. Good.

They’ve really upped the ante with the visuals though, alluding to the BBC’s long history by adapting the old fashioned test card for the web.

This means a lot to those of us over a certain age. It takes us back to the days when TV used to close down overnight, so if you got up early enough there’d be nothing to watch except this slightly strange picture of a girl and a clown.

It plays on our nostalgia and makes us smile unexpectedly, turning a bad experience (not arriving at the page we expected) into a reasonably good one.

Have you spotted any other good error pages online? I’m thinking of compiling a list, so please leave a comment if so.

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