bad contingency design:

I just tried to access hotmail and got this screen:
Hotmail no service page

The page does not even tell me that it is hotmail. Then they say “We apologize for this inconvenience.” Thanks guys.

Contrast this to Technorati’s page:
Technorati’s whoops page

“There are blogs, and then there’s whatever you just typed in. If it’s a blog, we don’t know about it. Maybe you made a typo. Or maybe it’s a blog that doesn’t exist. Maybe you don’t exist. (In which case, please ignore this.)”

Which gets a chuckle and gets the point accross.

What does your site do when a user makes a mistake, or your site makes a mistake?

Don’t do this. Smarter to make a 404 Error page that apologizes, takes responsibility for the user not finding the page, and offers help on finding what they want, like ours.

When things aren’t going right, you have the opportunity to help your visitors. Hotmail and Coke don’t deal with this well. Do you?

UPDATE: Today Seth talks about contingency design as well.

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I'm now blogging about internet marketing at

Red Beard Consulting

At Red Beard Consulting I work on internet marketing primarily for speakers. I also work with Infusionsoft.

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