Rohm and Haas : Smiling on errors

Rohmhaas click to view

A cheerful error message seeks to disarm the frustration of a broken link.

The Site

Rohm and Haas, a US-based global producer of specialist chemicals, has a distinctive error page for redirecting visitors who run into a broken or redundant link on its main website.

As well as flagging the universal ‘404 Error, File not found’ message the page features a photographic image of a jolly, avuncular figure holding a coloured card with the phrase ‘404 error’ printed on it. The accompanying text explains what the error means and offers four alternative links: to the search page, home page, the company’s Consumer and specialities business and a consumer product site.

The Takeaway

The 404 Error message is no stranger to regular web users. Even on the best maintained of sites visitors cannot escape the odd broken or discontinued link, nor the frustration that comes with it. All sites have an error page ready for the eventuality, most extremely basic in message and look. Rohm and Haas is in our experience alone in trying to ease the pain by raising a smile, however weary. Its choice of a smiling round-faced man exudes Father Christmas-like cheeriness and is unlikely to cause the apoplexy associated with other ‘friendly’ icons such as the widely known and widely loathed Microsoft Paperclip.

Just as important as the disarming smile, Rohm and Haas makes sure the page follows the site style (more reassuring than the standard default page) and offers ways out of the dead end. The inclusion of two business sites is, however, questionable unless traffic logs are telling the company that this is what many people are looking for. If that’s not the case, then giving the impression that it treats a broken journey as a chance to market something else to you could just wipe that smile back off your face.


First published on 01 December, 2005