When my recent search for USAID information on preparing your family for an avian flu pandemic dead-ended in a 404 "File Not Found" page, I expected to head back to the drawing board: Google. Then I took a closer look at USAID's error message page. (Click on the thumbnail to get a full-size, readable view.)
Rather than stranding the user, it tries to help by:
- Linking to the USAID home page where the user may be able to get her bearings and start the search again
- Linking to the site map, which may seem like a "vintage" method of way-finding but which some users actually prefer
- Linking to the Help Desk,
a page that explains in easy-to-read text what each of the main content
categories contains, what drop-downs are, and the right-hand navigation
relates to the content on each page
- Providing a search field and allowing the user to search all/part of the USAID web site or the Internet instead.
Now THAT's attention to detail.
Do you have a favorite "File Not Found" page? (Am I really asking this question?!) If so, let us know.
-- Leslie O'Flahavan
P.S. I never did find the exact avian flu page I had been looking for, but I did use the search field in the "File Not Found" page to find other relevant info.