3 Keys to a Great 404 Page (Plus One Bonus)
If you have a website, it’s inevitable – someone will come across a page that doesn’t exist. Whether it’s a blog post you moved or a mistyped link, users are bound to come across a 404 page at one point or another. Most WordPress themes thankfully come with custom 404 pages, but if you’ve got a custom site or don’t know how to set one up yourself, get in touch with your developer ASAP.
Why? Because most users will see this page instead of what they were looking for:
Not very helpful, eh? And then, they will leave your site. In order to prevent that, you need a great 404 page.
№ 1 A great 404 page admits there’s a problem (and offers what the problem might be).
Your user has stumbled upon a problem – no shame in admitting it. A page got moved, a link was mistyped, or maybe it’s user error – doesn’t matter. There’s a problem, they need to know it’s (probably) not their fault, and what they should do about it now that they’re here. Give them some pertinent details, and then suggest how they might fix the issue because…
№ 2 A great 404 page offers a a solution
They didn’t land where they wanted – give them some alternative options! Perhaps they want to browse your other products or read your latest blogs. Maybe they just want to contact you to let you know they came across a 404 page looking for something they were interested in. Giving them other locations to explore on your site will often keep them from bouncing elsewhere.
№ 3 A great 404 page encourages the user to search and find a new direction
Unsure where to direct users next? Give them a search bar so that they might find what they were originally looking for, or even a simple one-click way back to your homepage. You could also use your website analytics to find your most visited pages, and provide a list of those to choose from.
Bonus (№ 4): A really great 404 page makes the user laugh
This is not required, but it’s definitely icing on the cake. Adding levity to the situation so your user doesn’t feel as the sting of a possible misstep will make you look great in their eyes. Need some ideas? Here are some of our favorite funny examples:
Bluegg – http://bluegg.co.uk/404 (IMG)
Lego – http://www.lego.com/404notfound (IMG)
Mailchimp – http://mailchimp.com/404/ (IMG)
Mashable – http://mashable.com/404/ (IMG)