Google has a terrible 404 page

Google's 404 robot On the face of it Google has a perfectly decent 404 page. There’s a cute little robot illustration and an amusing page title (‘Error 404 (Not Found)!!1’). Also on the positive side, the page is very light, using only 11 lines of code and two small images.

However, there is absolutely no functionality beyond the Google logo being a link back to the home page.

Google's 404 page

One of the really obvious useful things to do with a 404 page is to provide a search box so users can immediately make an attempt to find what they wanted. It seems like such an obvious and easy thing for Google to include that I’m amazed they haven’t.

I’m sure Google could easily go one step further and create a bespoke search results page that attempts to predict which pages the user meant to arrive and present them as options. Really, how hard would it be for Google to guess that when a user arrives at the 404 URL http://www.google.com/nexus7/ that they probably want to visit the Nexus 7 page?

Even Bing manages to do a better job, providing navigation, a search bar, and some basic advice:

That web page doesn’t exist.

Let’s see if we can help you find what you are looking for.

Tips

  • Check that the web address that you entered doesn’t contain a typo.
  • Use the search box instead of your browser’s address bar.
  • Go to the Bing homepage.
  • Find more search tips in Help.

Google are a company who traditionally like to test every aspect of their design, so I’d be very curious to know if they have any good reasons for providing a 404 page of such little utility.

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