Case Studies - Product Design

Doing More With 404

Environmental organisation Kirloskar Vasundhara’s new website uses dead links to tell you about species that once lived.

screenshot of Kirloskar Vasundhara home page with a leopard and a quote saying broken links can be changed, extinct species cannot

404 errors occur if the URL is incorrect, broken, the page is moved but not redirected, or the server is down. When large legacy websites are revamped, the chances of visitors following old/broken URLs and hitting dead pages is significantly higher. Showing them a boilerplate “Page not found” message will only increase their frustration.

Brands have tried to soften the blow through clever, humorous messaging. Amazon.com, for instance, shows you a different dog picture each time you hit a dead link.

Screenshot of Amazon 404 page showing dog picture
Amazon.com uses cute dog pictures on 404 error pages, making it hard for visitors to stay mad 

Lego.com, on the other hand, does a good recall of the popular song from The Lego Movie and nudges people to start shopping.

404 page on lego.com with Start shopping button
Lego hopes to get disgruntled visitors humming “Everything is awesome!”

Environmental organisation Kirloskar Vasundhara has done something very different. 

About the Organisation

Established in 2007, Kirloskar Vasundhara is a social enterprise that works to raise awareness about environmental concerns and spur action for nature conservation. They do this through their annual international film festival and allied events focused on the environment, wildlife, energy, air, water, and the state of the planet. They also provide a platform for activists, photographers, naturalists, private organisations, and policymakers to come together. 

The Website: Old vs New

The organisation’s legacy website was badly in need of an upgrade, not just in terms of aesthetics, responsiveness, and performance, but also to serve a larger purpose. 

Beyond just a functional corporate website, the team wanted it to be:

  • An immersive experience that showcases the wonders of nature and instantly conveys the organisation’s mission to visitors
  • An archive for the documentaries, films, and presentations from the Kirloskar Vasundhara International Film Festival

Mumbai-based content and design studio Centrick was commissioned for the revamp. 

“Given how long the organisation has been in existence and how massive the older website was, we knew that new visitors would inevitably hit quite a lot of dead pages. We decided to turn this potential bad experience into an opportunity,” says Roy Menezes, Partner and Chief Creative Officer at Centrick.

On the new website, every 404 page displays an extinct species of flora or fauna, along with a thought-provoking message: dead links can be revived, dead species cannot. 

Screenshot of 404 error page from Kirloskar Vasundhara
The 404 error pages send a powerful message that underlines the importance of the work the brand is doing.

This is also in line with the interesting direction they’ve taken with the rest of the website.

The homepage of the new website refreshes 1440 times a day to give you a fact about nature, synced to the minute you are browsing. At 6 am, it will tell you about polar bears starting their hunt. At 5.35 pm, it will tell you what kind of bamboo pandas prefer to eat. Some facts are about natural disasters, others are quirky facts about animals. Every fact is accompanied by a stunning photograph.

screenshot of Kirloskar vasundhara website with image of Nepenthes plant
The homepage of the Kirloskar Vasundhara website refreshes 1440 times a day to give you a fact about nature, relevant to your browsing time

The team has deliberately not archived all the facts in one place. Says Gauri Kirloskar, Managing Director of Kirloskar Oil Engines, “We wanted to revamp a static website into an entirely new experience that draws in a global audience. By conceptualising a website that shares a new fact about nature every minute of the day, we get people to the website not just once, but all through the day.” 

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