I was delighted the other day to find this 404 page on Lithium's site (well not delighted I couldn't get what I was looking for, but tickled by the content):
I had a couple of questions on the back of this...
1. Was this an intentional Bill Paxton / Pvt Hudson tribute aligned to his sad and recent passing (if so, kudos Lithium) - or just sheer coincidence I found it a few days after that event?
2. Has anyone seen or got research they could share around why custom 404's like this are a good thing? Instinctively it's a fun and nice things to do for your site - but has anyone tied the impact of doing it to improvement in any key metrics like engagement? Does is sufficiently appease people that they are more likely to go on and keep trying to find what they were trying to get to, or do people who have seen a custom 404 show increased brand sentiment or engagement?
I love the idea of doing this, but it's a hard thing to find time for, so understanding hard metrics that might change off the back of it would be useful.
I've not seen that 404 before but Kudos all round "I also like", looks like the community and the main Lithium site have separate 404's as this is the community 404 page:
I'm not aware of any case studies about 404's but if you think about it and if we're doing our jobs correctly then a tiny number of users would get to a 404 so the value "in my eyes" to having a custom 404 would be very low. I personally see custom 404's as more of an easter egg, you never want to see a 404 when you're on a site but if you're hit with something a little silly or makes you smile then it somewhat defuses the frustration of hitting a brick wall.
Whilst I dont see any major value in custom 404's that hasn't stopped me from doing my own
Hi Miles, it's clever, isn't it?
I believe this custom 404 page has been around for a while. @bladefrog created this a few years back, maybe he can chime in on this.
Hi Miles / AC, yes that is a current iteration of a little easter egg 404 that we put together starting waaaaay back in 2011 actually (when I was still at Lithium). They have all been Alien inspired, starting with a 'things have gone wrong, but not as wrong as on LV426' type message. This is the current version. Glad to see it is still living on. It isn't a Bill Paxton tribute, but certainly is a great memory of one of the best ad libs in action films.
As for the question from Miles. We took the approach at the time that an error has occurred and we wanted to give people routing and feedback options. So the page at the time originally had additional routing on it and a feedback mechanism to learn what actually happened.
I haven't seen any empirical data on how custom 404s perform over basic system/server errors, but just from a common sense stand point, it's good to put a human face on an error. Or in this case the Alien Queen's face. It's often a better option than going to orbit and nuking the page from space...