When an user click on a non-existent page or a changed page (page 404) this is really an unpleasant situation. Watch this page: http://www.galiacho.es/404. IT could happen if we have misinterpreted the name of the website, made a syntax error or simply by the fact the page is no longer available. It could really undermine the credibility of your website if the 404 page reflect only a white page like the one shown.
Most CMS like WordPress, should have in their themes a basic version of errors pages following Google’s recommendations in this regard, but this is not enough.
It is therefore of interest to offer a better 404 page for broken links, a little more attractive. And, why not go beyond the simple picture or comic creative design by giving useful functions? After all, the visitor was looking for something specific, which for one reason or another haven’t get!
1. Think mobile-friendly
Obiviously be sure that your page is “mobile friendly”. Any concept you are creating should show well on a mobile phone or tablet.
2. Take the opportunity to show your brand!
How to enforce your brand? Maybe you can ask a web designer to play with your corporate logo and create an animation? Or just planning a short comedy video? Let’s look at KitKat’s solution : https://www.kitkat.com/404notfound. Is not it great ?!
3. Offer Useful Links
Do not forget to add or make more accessible the links of your website. A link to the site map, a top menu and a page that gives the feeling of not being on another website is important.
4. A search field
This is one of the most important aspects. Initially, the visitor was seeking something that he still searching! Offer a search field well presented in the center of the screen with proper typography. It is possible with a bit of knowledge to make a small routine and extract in the url address, the terms sought by your visitor.
Internet Cloud Canada recommends the use of Google Custom Search API. You can learn on this subject at : https://developers.google.com/custom-search/ or your web developer (or our web technicians) are able to install this service on your 404 page.
With a routine and the API of Google, you have on hand the opportunity to suggest to the visitor better choices, not just a search field. The user experience is greatly enhanced and the reputation of your brand too.
5. A kind word of apology
Sometimes just a nice little sentence mentioning that the page is not found make a difference. It can have a bit of humor also in that little attention to the visitor.
6. Translation of 404 page
If your site is multilingual, it’s better to offer 404 pages in all languages of your site. This enhances the user experience on your site and your desire of personalization of the message.
7. Email Form
It would be wise to place a form for sending e-mail to you. Whether for visitors to learn more about what he searched or to display a message to inform about a broken link on your website. Many visitors are kind enough to do so.
8. Do not call the page “Error 404″
The 404 is the http return code, no need to call this page in the title or description “error 404″. Show rather a clear message to your visitor. Very often at the sight of an error page, the visitor does not know what is happening. Visitors can believe in lots of scenarios, so show precise informations on that page and explain the error cleary.
9. A page over 512kb
Internet Explorer still needs a 404 page with a weight of 512 kb and more otherwise it returns an error page in a preset format. These days, it should not be a problem, but it’s better to check that too.
Manage the 404 pages
The user part is completed, the work is still not complete. You should handle errors 404 with great concern. You will need to:
– Consult the exploration statistics in Google and Bing Webmaster Tools
– Ensure that the error page returns the correct error code 404.
– Fix broken links on your website
– Do not automatically redirect all broken links on the main page, this situation brings only confusion especially on the visitor’s side who will wonder why he reached it instead of what he sought.
All these actions will make a difference when a user will see your error page, and it will happen for sure!