Adding hidden items in Web sites is what separates good developers from great ones. Below I've compiled a list of 10 of my personal favorites from the past few years. If you have any of your own feel free to share them in the comments.
1. The Konami code. The infamous code sequence that appears in many video games old and new (↑ ↑ ↓ ↓ ← → ← → B A) has a place on the Internet too. Two sites that we know of take advantage of this to yield humorous results. The first, and most recent, is Google Reader. Inputting the code graces your feed source menu with one of the ninjas found in the newly skinnable sharing pages. This trick also works on GameSpot.com. Entering in the code and hitting enter at the end will take you to the cheats section for Contra, the game for the Nintendo Entertainment System for which it's best known.
2. Yahoo's singing yokel. If you remember the 1990s you'll remember this wonderful yell--the sound of the Yahoo yodeler. To hear it any time just click on the ! at the end of the Yahoo logo on Yahoo.com.
3. JetBlue wants a sandwich. The infamous peanut butter jelly time dancing banana (background) was briefly a part of JetBlue's travel search site. Typing in "PBJ" into the search box while holding shift and clicking the search button would pull up a clip from Fox's Family Guy with the dog Brian doing the dance. It was removed shortly after it was discovered. You can still see a shot of what it looked like here.
4. Google Easter eggs (3 parts)
- Google bombs come and go. Their very nature depends on search relevancy, so no one Google bomb will stick around forever. Two of the more prominent ones had to deal with the George W. Bush presidency, including the infamous faux 404 page for "Weapons of mass destruction" and the search for "miserable failure" which would link up to Bush's profile at the White House Web site. A more humorous iteration exists using Google's built-in calculator in relation to Douglas Adams' masterpiece The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Searching for "the answer to life, the universe, and everything" yields 42, which you'd understand if you had read the book.
- Google Moon. Google's mapping services are chock full of secrets. For a while Google Moon had a really great one. When zooming too far into the surface of the moon it became cheese, something that was later removed probably at NASA's request or improved topography. Here's a video someone captured of it by KoolAidGrenade at Metacafe.
- Ridiculous languages in Google Search. Remember the Swedish Chef from The Muppets? Why not make him your liaison to the world of search? Amidst the myriad of language options in Google you'll find "bork, bork, bork" which serves up your results in the gibberish language of the fictional Swedish Chef. Believe it or not Google gets over a million page views a day in Swedish Chef according to Marissa Mayer, Google's vice president of search and user experience.
If Swedish ain't your thing, there's also Elmer Fudd from Loony Toons and Esperanto, the language that belongs to no nation or people. However the best of all is Google for h4x0rs (hackers), which you can get to by going to 600673.com (Google spelled out in leet speak).
Is The Moon Made Of Cheese?!? ACCORDING TO GOOGLE.COM - video powered by Metacafe
Continue reading for 5-10.
5. Awesome 404 pages. Typing in a URL for a place you're not supposed to go usually yields a boring 404 message but some site creators have gone the extra mile to make sure you feel like you're getting your time's worth. Smashing Magazine has compiled lists of cool 404 pages here and here, but one of my favorites that changes every time you use it is from 3D Realms, the makers of the Duke Nukem series. Going to a page not on the site map takes you to a page with a picture of staff members around the office with the colors reversed to look like an old film negative. It changes every time you refresh the page, which is creepy but cool.
6. Tumblr's listen box. If you're a Tumblr user, typing "listen" into your keyboard from your dashboard will bring up a link to launch the "sound box" which plays audio tracks from everyone on your Tumblr friends list who has posted audio. If you're on Tumblr and trying to figure out why it's not playing anything, you might want to make sure you start following a friend or two.
7. Flickr in Pirate speak. We blogged about this back when it happened for "international talk like a pirate day" but a special one-day-only language option for "Arrr!" appeared on the Yahoo-owned photo host Flickr. Clicking it would convert nearly everything on the site into pirate-jargon. Expect the folks at Yahoo to do it again come September 19th matey.
8. Moo.com's massive, Internet-wide Easter egg hunt. More of a marketing move than anything else, back in March Web printing service Moo.com ran a contest to find little Easter eggs hidden around popular Web sites and in real life. Included were sites like Boing Boing, Picnik, Etsy and others. If you found certain eggs you could pick up one of 3,500 prizes including cool Moo swag and Flickr pro accounts.
9. Amazon's hidden employee page. At the very bottom of Amazon.com you can click on the directory of all stores link. Directly below the copyright date is a small box that's invisible unless highlighted. If you click on it you'll be taken to a special page dedicated to former Amazon.com employee David Rishers by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.
10. Random subjects in Yahoo Mail. Can't think of what to title your message? Let Yahoo do it for you. If you're using the newer version of Yahoo Mail (not the classic mode) clicking on the subject button next to the open field will generate a random subject line for you. Useful for all those times you've got writer's block.
If you're a Yahoo Messenger user there's also an entire set of "hidden" icons which you can find here. These won't show up in the emoticon selector, but will pop up if you enter them alongside your usual chat. You can feel special, but they were probably left out of the menu to preserve UI simplicity, not because they're particularly useful.