Murphy's Law states that "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong". While things go wrong, adding a little bit of humor to error messages can lighten up the environment, at least for that moment. Given this context, organizations have started to build error pages with enchanting personalities.
The World of 404s
Consider a common case of 404 Error. Huwshimi has figured an interesting way to display 404 error pages. One of them is this: “A ninja stole this page. You must return when the moon has friends and the fox is borrowed.”
Frye/Wiles Creative Agency, displays the same error using the metaphor of a missing bird.
Frye/Wiles Creative Agency
Mobile App Hipmunk uses their mascot to deliver error messages in a soothing way. When hipmunk app stops responding due to possible internet issues, this is the error message: "Whoops! We can't reach Hipmunk. Please make sure you're connected to the internet, or try again later."
When the app needs additional information, the app asks for it. In below screenshot, the app needs potential travel dates before displaying results. This is asked in a nice way, by mentioning that its difficult to show results based on existing criteria and hence, would need travel dates to show appropriate results.
One anonymous marketer at Everyday IX once, quoted,
“Imagine if all products treated digital communication as a conversation with a real human being that possesses thoughts, goals, and emotions, not just the recipient of a conglomeration of technology restraints? It wouldn’t cure all design ailments, but it would certainly soothe frustration along the way.”
As quoted above, An error message is a sensitive conversation the product initiates with a human being, at a time when something has gone wrong, sometimes, terribly wrong. At such a point in time, error message need to be emphathetic, information and helpful. Of course, error messages are life-less and non-human. Yet, they can be made human in the way they work. In short, error messages need to have a strong personality - of being a torch bearer to the user.
Do your error messages have a lively personality?