It’s frustrating when you set out to find something only to … well … not find it. You know how it goes. Someone links to a website that has the information you’re looking for but instead, you end up on that dreaded 404 “Page Not Found” page. Ugh. What’s even worse is when you’re on a site and you click on a link … and you find a 404 “Page Not Found” page. Oh the humanity!
So what is a 404 “Page Not Found” page on a website? The technical definition is that a “404 is an error that is displayed when the server fails to locate the page or file that the user requests.” Source. In other words, it’s a dead end for the visitor leaving them with little else to do but “go back.” Or do they?
By having a welcoming, user-friendly 404 page you keep the visitor from bouncing – that is, leaving your site. Make it unique. Speak their language. Provide them with some alternative links. Just don’t leave it as the generic, default 404 page.
Every site has a 404 page … by default. It comes standard. But it can, and should, be a lot more. You have the ability to put what you want on the page. Make it match the personality of your brand, whether that be professional, fun, etc. Add your own verbiage. Be helpful. Add value.
To see what your 404 Page Not Found page looks like, simply type in your website and then add a slash and any word to the end (provided it’s not the name of an existing page) such as /error or /404.
To see an example of a custom 404 Page Not Found that I built for my website, you can visit: www.touchpointwebdesigns.com/error
Here’s a few tips to keep in mind when it comes to creating a 404 Page Not Found page:
- Don’t make your visitors feel stupid. Don’t blame them. Keep the text light-hearted.
- Include important links. Offer some alternative links instead.
- Include a search box. That way they can search for what they came for and see the “real” link to get them there.
- Synergy. Design the 404 page with a similar look and feel as your other pages.
- Easy navigation. Don’t send them back to the homepage. Give them some suggestions to other important pages they can navigate to.
Every website that I now create comes with a custom 404 page. It’s built into the design package. We’ll add the verbiage, image or even video that will help add value to your customer’s journey in helping them because customer and clients. If you’d like to discuss what a 404 page would look like on your site or ask any other questions, click here to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.