If you thought the 404 page was just an error message in HTML form - think again. Renny Gleeson has an amusing story about an opportunity missed.
The problem is that we programmers tend to think in terms of function. A 404 page is what we get the web server to serve up when it can't find anything corresponding to the page the user requested.
OK, that's all there is to it.
But no, Renny Gleeson's latest TED talk tells us that we need to consider the user, who is often crushed by the loss of an interaction with a page from your website. I think his is being serious in a humorous sort of way, but watch the video and see if you agree:
Some of the 404 pages are so engaging that I would bet that users probably prefer them and start to think of a broken link as a sort of treat that means they don't have to interact with the real, and probably more serious, aspects of the site.
Of course, as programmers we are dedicated to minimizing all bugs of every kind - but doesn't this new attitude to 404 errors mean we should tolerate them?
And finally I Programmer is not going to improve its 404 page, even assuming we could find it...
We believe you should enjoy our content more than our broken links.
Now is there any scope for engaging the visitor in any of the other HTML error pages:
Seriously folks if you do find broken links on I Programmer please email email@example.com and we'll take appropriate action to stop you seeing the 404 page.
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