Bringing 4xx User Experience Errors to Life

Isn’t it quite irritating to search for something and land up on a link with an error? While many thought that 404 error was the only one in existence, actually there are more, in fact an entire series.

We will present all errors faced by a customer that are potential disruptors to online user experience. But first, a little history on where these errors come from.

What’s the Idea?

It is when the web server detects that data sent by a web browser is malformed as in it didn’t respect the Hypertext Transfer Protocol. In this case, it becomes impossible for the server to understand and process the request.

By the way, there are other series too such as the 300, 200, and 100. However, the most common is the 400 series and in that 404 is the most popular status code of HTTP.

This series of HTTP error status messages suggest problems at the user’s or client’s end.

Blast form the Past

These codes first came into use in 1992 by the “World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)”, as part of 0.9 spec of HTTP. Tim Berners-Lee was the one to define these errors. He is the same man who invented the first browser in 1990. 404 Research Lab refers to him as “the man who made all of this possible”.

His HTTP codes are based on File Transfer Protocol status codes (established earlier in the 1980s).

Status Codes

400 Bad Request


The client sent data stream that didn’t follow server rules. It appears as, “HTTP 400 – Bad Request”. You will see this message also when URL consists of characters like *, %, &.

401 Unauthorized


The message reads, “HTTP Error 401 – Unauthorized: Access is denied…” You need to log into somewhere, i.e. with a password and username. If failed, you receive this.

402 Payment Required


It reads, “Runtime Error” meaning the request is not in use currently. It’s listed as “reserved for future use”. This happens when there are synchronization logic issues.

403 Forbidden


When the server understands request and is reachable, but refuses to take a responsive action. Simply, it translates to “access denied”.

404 Not Found


The “Not Found” error is very common, and indicates that although the communication between the client and server was indicated, the server couldn’t find the request.

405 Method Not Allowed


This one appears, “Method Not Found”, and is caused when the name of the file is not specified. It often arises in the POST method — a form that needs data input.

406 Not Acceptable


The “Not Acceptable” error happens when the data is not sent in the correct format requested by Accept Header.

407 Proxy Authentication Required


Although the data sent to the server from client was spot on, there was no authentication given to the proxy server. Log in details are essential here.

408 Request Timeout


The “Request Timeout” error means that the web server thinks that too much time has passed in the establishment of connection between client and Internet Protocol.

409 Conflict


The client request is not adhering to pre-established rules and thus cannot be completed by the web server. E.G. you can’t upload file to the web that’s an older version.

410 Gone


Appears as “Gone”, this error indicates that the request of a URL from the client is not available anymore in the system.

411 Length Required


The “Length Required” error is when the web server thinks that client’s data stream should mention the specific length of the content. Required for placement of HTTP data.

412 Precondition Failed


This “Precondition Failed” error happens when the client sends HTTP data that has a “precondition specification” which is unrecognizable by the server.

413 Request Entity Too Large


“Request Entity Too Large” is an error whereby the client’s data stream has too many bytes, i.e. the file is too large.

414 Request-URI Too Long


The “Request URL too long” is similar to 413 error. It is also based on the size of the file. Data that does not follow the limitation of bytes reflects this error.

415 Unsupported Media Type


“Unsupported Media Type” shows when the client’s media type in the data stream is not compatible with the URL resource.

416 Requested Range Not Satisfiable


When a range of bytes cannot be met with its specifications because the resource doesn’t cover this range.

Engaging Codes Visually

Knowing these codes is good, not only for general knowledge but also to know how to tackle them.

Here, we haven’t only listed the different types of errors of this series, but we have also recommended the visual ways in which a user won’t be annoyed by them. Whether its responsive web design or any other type of website, these visuals will surely entertain your users.

Look at how you can creatively deliver the HTTP status code messages.

Mehreen is a social media buff and design blogger, who keeps a keen eye on graphic design trends. She has a passion for experimenting with design ideas, and wouldn’t mind if it means going out of her way to find them in Timbuktu. Follow her on twitter for daily inspirations and findings.

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