A little while ago I started a tongue in cheek collection of broken web pages on Tumblr called Shit Servers Say. It’s turned into a collection of what makes a good and bad error page. The best examples treat broken web pages as an opportunity to reach out to their audience. The worst do nothing.
The best error pages
1. Acknowledge the mistake and are apologetic to the user.
2. Are instructive, sometimes even offering a pathway out.
The good error pages
3. Speak with the brand voice. This is often funny and shows attention to detail to the content and brand strategy of the company.
4. Use imagery, (illustrations, photos, video) to lighten the mood.
5. Promise that the problem has been noted and someone will get onto it.
The bad error pages
6. Serve up raw server messages full of technical gobbledygook.
7. Mention the Systems Administrator or a C-Panel. Wow. This one fills me with early internet nostalgia.
8. Are boring. Keep an eye out for the underwhelming Facebook errors.
Here’s a sample of what you will find but to see the full collection go to: http://shitserverssay.tumblr.com/