W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-ig@w3.org > July to September 2006

Re: User friendly 404s reconsidered

From: Orion Adrian <orion.adrian@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2006 08:44:45 -0400
Message-ID: <abd6c8010607250544k66a4757bhcd546cc9b35da746@mail.gmail.com>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

> Orion Adrian writes:
> I believe that there is a target complexity for every situation that is the
> right amount for your target audience.
> ... Some features work best when they exist either everywhere or in most
> places.
> ... My suggestion is to leave the back link in there.
> _ _ _ _ _
> At my website the search engine is never more than one click away. I have
> even implemented Alt+4 to get to it, the "standard" access key to get to a
> search engine (nobody knows about it). Can you ask for more? Why have search
> on every page? Blind people have to listen to all that crap and keyboard
> users need to tab through it.

Yes, but that is placing an essential feature a click away as opposed
to right there. Search is a very commonly used feature especially if
you're looking for something specific, but don't have a link as in the
404 scenario.

As for blind users. I feel for them, I really do. And I will continue
to fight for them as often as I can, but I don't hurt the usability of
the majority to help the minority. I will help the minority as long as
it doesn't hurt the majority. And screen reader's ability to skip
content is something that should be considered critical functionality.

> I will certainly continue to go for lightweight pages with as little noise
> as possible, with full focus on the main task ahead.

I agree with reducing noise. I don't consider search on a 404 page
noise. I don't consider placing the most common links on a 404 page
noise. These are all decent uses of screen real estate.

> Orion is even in favor of "Back" links in error messages. "Back" links
> should almost never be used. We have that functionality in the browser, and
> in the keyboard.

Are you trying to make me sound incompetent or crazy? Back links
shouldn't be used except where you're saying you can go _back_ to get
away from this page. If you're going to post a message that says you
can go back then it hurts you none to make that a link that does the

What I said in the previous e-mail is that I could find no significant
usability benefit in not telling them about going back. Going back is
almost always a useful thing to do and usually people's first response
to a 404 error because it has prooven the most effective thing to do.


Orion Adrian
Received on Tuesday, 25 July 2006 12:44:53 UTC

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