There is nothing more frustrating than landing on a broken webpage and seeing the below message, in fact it’s one of my biggest bugbears. This is what users see when they land on a page that doesn’t exist and has been deleted or the URL has been misspelt. As you can see from the image below the generic 404 page is pretty useless and doesn’t even attempt to help users continue their journey to your website.
Guess what users do in these situations? Bounce straight back to Google and go on your competitor’s site. Not everyone has the time or even thinks to delete the breadcrumbs and navigate to the homepage. They want the information there and then without having to make an effort to navigate to your site.
To soften the blow and put a smile on the disgruntled visitor’s face you need a well-designed custom 404 page that allows users to continue their journey on to your site. In this blog post I am going to cover the reasons why it’s important to have a custom 404 page and what you should include on it, and then I’m going to show you some quirky and fun custom 404 pages that will inspire you.
A custom 404 page is more important than you think; without one your visitors can’t continue their journey on your website. There is going to come a time where you’ve deleted a page and haven’t implement a 301 redirect and a visitor is going to land on a 404 error page. You also can’t control other errors; for example if another site links to you and inputs your URL incorrectly. Creating a custom 404 allows you to control what users see when they land on the broken link. You need to make it visually engaging and as easy as possible for them to continue their journey to your site.
Ecommerce sites are regularly deleting pages when products have been discontinued or are no longer for sale so it’s important that these sites have engaging 404 pages that prompt users to find an alternative or explain why the page is no longer available.
When it comes to what you should include on your 404 page there is no right or wrong approach. It ultimately comes down to what you think your visitors are looking for.
Whilst it’s great to point visitors to your homepage, the 404 page should do more than this. Your 404 page should be customised so it reflects what your visitor is probably looking for. For example if you’re an estate agent you would want to cater for those who want to buy or sell a property, therefore having a search facility and links to the buying and selling page would cater for both audiences.
There are a number of items that you could include on your 404 page, these are as follows;
I’ve searched and found some amazing custom 404 pages to inspire you:
Ultimately the web would be a better place if no one ever landed on a 404 page, but in reality this will never happen. Creating an engaging and creative 404 page that focuses on moving your visitor along from this obstacle will help encourage visitors to continue on your site.
If you think of your 404 page as being a place to show off your creativity, humour but provide a great user experience at the same time you’re on to a winner.
Have you come across any 404 error pages that you think are worthy of adding to my 404 wall of fame? If so, please leave me a comment below with your recommendation.