I wanted the TED error screens to be simple, telegraphic, and helpful, as all good error screens should be. I also wanted them to be friendly.
I employed subtle typographic humor that plays with the TED logo to reinforce what, specifically, has gone wrong. The copy — header, subhead and descriptive text — is concise yet conversational.
The most technical detail on the screen — the specific error code — is the least prominent, but evident nonetheless (good for reporting to customer support!). Navigation is minimal, and the screen offers a few possible links out of the mess.
No UX'er is happy when things go wrong, but we still have an opportunity and an obligation to try to make things right.