Many web developers overlook the potential value of a 404 page. Ours, for instance, is pretty damn boring, at least as of this writing. But as part of a campaign that has millions of dollars to blow, millions of potential website visitors, and a high likelihood of someone reaching a malformed URL, a 404 page deserves considerable attention. A campaign site has three basic purposes: collect subscriber emails, get donations, and raise awareness. If your visitor ends up on your 404 page, the first two items should definitely be present, and “above the fold”. That’s a no-brainer. Raising awareness can be accomplished by providing the user an easy way to get to the content you want them to see otherwise. One thing a user doesn’t need to see is a message that just says “you are nowhere”. They already know that. The other thing they don’t need to see is a picture of the candidate wearing a Donald Duck hat and Napoleon outfit as they cook bacon on a dildo while sitting on a horse. Strangely, these massively-funded 2016 campaigns end up doing just these things, pretty consistently. Here’s our roundup of all the 2016 presidential campaign 404 pages….
Much like Jeb’s campaign, this fails on several levels. The whole idea of showing some youthful, hippy-haired version of yourself is defeated if you’re playing TENNIS, for chrissakes. The language fail is epic here too; who the hell refers to anything web-related using the term “the nets” in 2015? Or ever, for that matter, except in 80’s cyberpunk novels like Necromancer. And wat the hell is “wat”? This all has the crusty and embarrassing feel of his dad’s legendary moment of wonder when first exposed to a barcode scanner in one of those “grocery stores” he had always heard that people shopped in.
This page actually captures Carson’s befuddled, slow-blinking manner perfectly somehow. And it says precisely what you expect it to say, in a very boring fashion, just like Carson. Except one thing Ben, WHY THE HELL AREN’T THERE ANY “DONATE” BUTTONS? If you’re not holding out a collection plate while telling the hardworking masses how you’re going to make their lives more plentiful and safe, you clearly don’t get how this game works.
Christie, always the gasconading buffoon, has probably nailed it here. We used the overwrought and archaic phrase “gasconading buffoon” in honor of Christie’s apparent reliance on Roget’s Thesaurus for soundbites (see our Chris Christie Obama Insult Generator for more on this). We say “nailed it”, because what could better capture such a pompous fat man’s attempt to be “regular people” than “dad dancing” in size 56 Dockers with Jimmy Fallon?
We presume the message here is something like “See? We’re not entrenched, corrupt oligarchs, we’re dorky old Disneyland visitors JUST LIKE YOU!”, overlooking the fact that 90% of the American population doesn’t budget $500+ per day vacations at Disneyland, and will almost certainly never visit the place. They at least nailed the “dorky” part. Another surprising fail on the “donate” button front. C’mon campaign web developers, how hard is it to plop some buttons in the 404?
We’re sorry, we couldn’t resist Photoshopping our shot at the #GOPdildo meme into the page. But the real 404 page does in fact include Cruz’s cringeworthy, dorksnorty shot at humor using bacon and guns. The message here? “Yeah, I’m an Ivy League educated dipshit who thinks cooking bacon on a machine gun is funny. Now gimme money.”
Like many in the GOP field, Fiorina makes “the Pepsi mistake”, i.e.: frames her entire message using her main competitor. In this case, Hillary Clinton is the Coke to Carly’s Pepsi, and her message is like most of the rest of the 2016 candidates, except that she’s a failed CEO who brags about it. “I’m a person who gets paid tens of millions for running iconic American companies like HP into the ground, just imagine what I can do for your government! Join me! Here’s the donate button!”
Gilmore’s 404 page reflects his campaign perfectly. He’s that guy who, you know, I think he’s a Democrat? No? A Republican? He’s from, I forget. Probably the best thing about this guy’s page, whoever he is – is that it’s a 404 page and it says “the page you were looking for does not exits”. As opposed to “exist”.
Hey Mike, nice try at the “common man” image all you candidates are shooting for. But you know what? Some of us would rather have someone PILOTING the boat than lollygagging on it with their dog, fishing for solutions.
Sorry John, cute catsploitation is not going to distract anyone from the fact that you were getting half-million dollar bonuses at Lehman Brothers as it went down the tubes along with the other banks that almost sucked the global economy down with them. With as much money as all these candidates have, you’d think they could do some A-B testing, instead of asking their grandkids “what’s cool on the internet lately?”
Unlike Christie, who is all bark and no bite about handling Putin, O’Malley is FUCKING DRESSED LIKE NAPOLEON AND ON A GODDAMN HORSE, ready to invade Russia at a moment’s notice. Oh Martin. This was a bad choice, even worse than that weird “LOOK! I’M SHAKING A BLACK MAN’S HAND! As long he’s at arm’s length and I’m leaning 20 degrees off vertical to keep a safe distance, of course” picture at the bottom.
We hate to say it, but we kind of have to give Paul a “win” here. Of all the candidates he at least seems to “get it” about privacy and the internet. And this is by no means an endorsement, but it says a lot about a campaign year when Rand Paul is often the only person on stage saying things that make sense of any kind.
Aw Marco. That’s cute. Yes, you DO seem a little lost. We hate to break it to you, but running America is probably a little harder than coaching rich urban kids’ football teams. But thanks anyway for the pep talk and the cookie cutter wisdom you’ve picked up in your short time here on Earth, and thanks for embedding the video on your 404 page.
It’s odd that Bernie Sanders’ initials are “BS”, because he seems utterly devoid of the stuff. While his 404 video is about as functional as you can get if you’re going to put a video where some words would have worked just fine, at least he spares us pictures of himself wearing a Donald Duck suit or images based on hackneyed internet memes.
Like Fiorina, Santorum blows it with “The Pepsi Mistake”, except he adds another layer with some cryptic shot at an inside joke. Why the scare quotes around “for convenience”? What the hell is he talking about? We honestly don’t get it.
Oh Donald. When a candidate’s first campaign ad is as batshit insane as this one is, we expect more from your 404. At least your equally insane Twitter feed, or maybe a the kind of nostalgic content the other candidates have leaned on. Like maybe the Domestic Donald Flash Game you did for All Detergent.