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404 page: the error sites of federal agencies

FedScoop: “Infusing a hint of humor or a dash of “whimsy” in government websites, including error messages, could humanize a federal agency to visitors. At least that’s how the National Park Service approaches its digital offerings, including its 404 page. “Even a utilitarian feature, such as a 404 page, can be fun — and potentially temper any disappointment at having followed a link that is no longer active,” an NPS spokesperson said in an email to FedScoop. “Similar to our voice and tone on other digital platforms, including social media, our main goal is to always communicate important information that helps visitors stay safe and have the best possible experience.” 404 pages are what appear when a server cannot locate a website or resource at a specific URL. Hitting a 404 could be due to a number of reasons: a spelling error in the URL, the page may not exist anymore, or the server moved a page without having the link redirect. As a result of the error, many different entities with websitessuch as state and local governments have had a stroke of creative genius to make users aware of an issue while also having a bit of fun — which rings true for some federal agencies as well. While 404 pages could seem like a silly or boring part of the federal government’s use of technology, there has been a significant push in the Biden administration, specifically out of the Office of Management and Budget, to enhance the user experience of federal agencies’ online presence — with a focus on accessibility.”

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