Harrogate Community Radio’s empty state pages

The problem

Harrogate Community Radio faced the challenge of uninspiring empty state pages, particularly the 404 error page, which could potentially deter visitor engagement.

Recognising the importance of maintaining a positive user experience even in the face of navigation errors, the radio station aimed to redesign these pages to reflect its brand identity and ethos effectively.

The strategy

Drawing on the beauty of Harrogate and the local area, a photo of a local destination within Harrogate was decided upon as the backdrop by stakeholders at the station. This was on brand with the vision of the local station.

The content was designed to empathise with visitors, using a friendly and reassuring tone, while also encouraging exploration of the site through engaging links and suggestions.

Visual elements were carefully selected to align with the brand’s identity, ensuring consistency across the user experience. Collaboration with the stakeholders and the freelance developers (and thorough testing) ensured the design’s seamless implementation.

Why you should care

This case study underscores the significance of thoughtful content design in enhancing user experience, even in less favourable circumstances like encountering a 404 page. By turning a potential point of frustration into an opportunity for engagement, Harrogate Community Radio not only upheld its brand identity but also strengthened its community connections. For businesses and content designers alike, this project illustrates the value of aligning design and content strategy with brand ethos, showcasing how creative solutions can positively impact user interaction and brand perception.

a photo mockup of a laptop with a newsletter loaded on the screen

The brief

Harrogate Community Radio is a cornerstone of community-led media in North Yorkshire. It sought to revamp its digital presence with more engaging and on-brand empty state pages. These include a 404 error page. The goal was to improve user experience. It was to turn potential frustration into a positive brand interaction.

Approach and solution

  1. Understanding the brand: At first, we dived deep into Harrogate Community Radio’s ethos. We embraced its commitment to the community and its unique identity. This insight was crucial. It ensured the designs stayed true to the brand’s spirit.
  2. Creative conceptualisation: The design concept was born from Harrogate and the surrounding area. It mixed the brand’s personality with a touch of nostalgia and resilience.
  3. Content design: The content strategy focused on three key elements:
    • Empathy and engagement: Use a friendly, reassuring tone. The content acknowledges the visitor’s potential disappointment. But, it guides them back to the main site or to other interesting content.
    • Brand voice consistency: This was about maintaining Harrogate Community Radio’s warm and inclusive brand voice. The messaging was crafted to be simple yet playful. It invited further exploration.
    • Useful redirects: It was an idea to add engaging links and suggestions. They keep the visitor engaged. They turn a lost user into a curious site explorer.
  4. Visual design: The visuals were carefully chosen to echo the brand’s style. They have a colour scheme and typography that reflect both the modern and historical aspects of the radio’s branding. The design of the 404 page also nods to the location of the station with a blurred out photo of local parkland. This all provided a sense of familiarity and stability.
  5. Development and testing: I worked with freelancers, those responsible for the website. They made sure the designs were working and responsive on all devices. We rigorously tested the page so that it ensured a smooth user experience. It worked no matter how or where the page was accessed.

Outcome

Both the client and its audience enthusiastically welcomed the new 404 page. Key outcomes included:

  • Enhanced user experience: The page successfully mitigates user frustration, offering clear pathways back to engaging content, thereby reducing bounce rates.
  • Brand alignment: The design and content perfectly encapsulated Harrogate Community Radio’s identity, reinforcing its brand with every unexpected visit to the 404 page.
  • Positive feedback: Users and stakeholders alike praised the thoughtful design and content, appreciating the blend of utility, engagement, and brand consistency.

Conclusion

This project shows how careful content design can turn a bad user experience into a good chance for engagement. And, it can do this while keeping a brand’s identity. Harrogate Community Radio’s new 404 page not only aligns with their brand values but also reinforces the connection with their community, demonstrating the power of well-crafted content design.

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