Thursday, January 31, 2008

Great ways to turn lemons into lemonade

Mean and nasty error messages and how to avoid them

Today's post is about very nasty pages that are lurking on many sites, waiting to chew up and spit out promising leads.

Like the ones that warn visitors that their details are about to be captured by the "fraudulent click department."

That can't be happening these days, right? That's what I though the other day when I read an interesting post by Jennifer Slegg, a search marketing consultant. She'd found a doozy on a Canadian moving company's site.

So this morning I decided to go looking for sites with these nasties. And they're out there in droves. I found this one at www.worldmusicvideo.com/pass.htm

"Warning: Your IP address does not have permission to access the restricted areas of this site. Your IP address has been recorded and logged. Repeated attempts to access this server will be construed as attempts to gain unlawful access and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of applicable laws."

Was this company selling top secrets? No, just some sort of video production.

There were pages and pages of similar warnings, threats and business blackholes, hopefully none on the sites of readers of this blog.

Perhaps we can all learn from the folks at Greenpeace.org who have turned their lemons into lemonade.

Its oops page builds its brand, reinforces its key message, and helps visitors find what they want. There seems little reason why sites with restricted pages couldn't adapt this helpful tone instead of threatening innocent visitors.

Stumped for ideas? This Web site has a great collection of error notices, showing how humor can work well in these situations: http://www.squareoak.com/blog/404-pages-funny-geeky-disturbing/

For a great b2b example, check out http://www.alphomega.co.uk/404

It provides links to recent news, etc., and other handy information, at the same time as acknowledging its mistake in a humorous way. Nice one.

Seen any great examples of nasty pages or absolutely great ones you want to share? Please add a comment below.

Quick PS: Thanks Joy for your comments below. I particularly like the straightforward advice based on Wal-Mart's page. It is kind of like a check list of what every error page needs.

Posted by IMR editor, Julie Power, at 11.48am, Thursday, January 31, 2008.


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1 comment:

joy said...

Well, you need to understand that those nasty 404 pages usually develop because two reasons...

1)The 404 message is just the default Web server software not found message.

2)You've got a fed up techie Web master who wants to send a message to the spammers, scammers and crackers who are trying to break into his/her site. (And the video company's not found message seems to be in this vein...)

On the other hand, here's a good example of useful 404 not found pages from some popular E-Commerce sites...