During the summer, the New York Times Games page went through a scheduled period of maintenance. However, the current landing page while the service was deactivated was a blank screen with unstyled text briefly describing the issue and asking users to return in a few hours.
I was tasked with designing a page that better reflected the New York Times Games brand, both fitting better in the site’s design system and redirecting users to another relevant page.
My approach was to find visual signifiers for NYT Games. First, I tried spelling out “MAINTENANCE” in a small crossword board. However, this posed technical issues, as the page should be up when the Games service was disabled.
Instead, I opted to use branding elements from the NYT Games advertisement campaign. These were blocks, triangles, and lines that mirrored moments of individual games, such as a cluster of cells in the Crossword, or a Letter Boxed solution.
I chose to arrange these blocks as though they were affected by gravity and had fallen, as a representation of the site in need of maintenance. Then, with the same blocks I created a set of illustrations to allow the page to function well across devices.
From here, we arranged the illustrations in the Games navigation and styling the text accordingly.
From this, the team realized that most error pages across the Games site were not unified and similarly to the Maintenance page, did not convey the Games brand.
The project then evolved into a redesign of other error pages, such as the 404 and 500 pages, each with its own set of illustrations and copy.