Understanding the Effects of Message Context and Level of Interaction on 404 Error Page Design

Eojin Kim, Jiwoong Yoo, Soyeon Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Peak-end effect advises designers to take care for the negative peaks caused in an experience with a product as it may negatively impact the overall experience. Unfortunately, one of the inevitable errors in web pages is 404 errors. This study, therefore, attempts to discover the best practices for presenting error pages on the web and suggests a way to encourage users to feel better when they encounter error pages. Methods First, an online survey was conducted that examined four experimental error pages conditions (2 Contextual messages; neutral, witty x 2 Levels of Interaction; none, high). A total of 141 participants answered the online survey. Then, in-depth interviews were conducted with four online survey participants from each error page condition to obtain qualitative data. Results Findings showed a significant difference in the contextual message. Witty messages had a significantly higher Positive Affect (PA) ratings and higher continued intentions when compared to neutral messages. Moreover, significant interaction effects were found which suggested both Positive Affect (PA) and Negative Affect (NA) could be felt from witty designs x high interactivity condition. Conclusions This study suggests that witty contextual messages may be more effective than neutral messages in error page designs. However, it should be acknowledged that witty contextual messages should be used with careful consideration as PA and NA may arise differently depending on the characteristics of the target user. This study could serve as a baseline study for error page designs and opens possibilities for future discussions in finding an effective design strategy for 404 error pages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-147
Number of pages15
JournalArchives of Design Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/), which permits unrestricted educational and non-commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Architecture
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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