How To Create An Awesome 404 Page
Error 404, also referred to as the Page Not Found message, is used as a standard hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) to indicate that the website user managed to communicate with the server. You know, the 404 page.
Unfortunately, the server could not retrieve specific information the user was looking for.
In such a situation, the server will automatically generate the “404 – Page Not Found” message. This is common when website users try to access dead or broken links.
It doesn’t matter how well your web design is or how often you check for both dead and broken links.
At some point, your users will find themselves in such a situation. The best way is figure out how best you can handle such situations.
How do you go about it?
- Acknowledge that there has been an error.
- Understand the possible causes of error and customize a page for them.
Create an error 404 page
Some users will exit the page or website immediately when they encounter a 404 page without any useful information. They won’t hit the back button.
To avoid this, you need to customize the 404 page for any eventuality. That is, be it a broken link or a link which is out of date, you need to put in some information that will keep the user on the page.
You need to be creative and put yourself in the shoes of the website user: if you encounter a dead page, what information would you have wanted to find there?
There are certain tricks you can employ that will be useful in all these scenarios. Here are some of them.
Do not point a finger at anyone
The 404 page error could either be due to your mistake or the user’s. You need to have a friendly message that can reassure your visitors that you will give them what they are looking for.
Try solving the problem
Assume website users are on the 404 page error, what should they do? Your error page should include the following key aspects:
A link to the home page or site map. This will allow users to navigate to other pages of the website without clicking the back button.
A search box. It will enable users to search for specific information on your website. The search box may include different options such as searching by keyword, category, date, or type of media file. If possible, it should have a dropdown menu.
Avoid distractions. The aim is to provide a simple and effective way of solving your user’s problem, and that is taking them to a useful page. Don’t include graphics, unnecessary words, or advertisements.
Avoid jargon. Remember, there are people who do not understand what “Error 404 or 404 page” means. Keep it simple.
How do you create this page?
There are themes that come with a 404.php file. If you feel the error page your theme comes with is not useful, you can customize it to meet your requirements.
To edit this information, access the theme’s error template file and edit the message text. Write your favorite message on a text editor, save, and upload it in the theme directory.
Creating this page is a simple process and you don’t have to be an expert in web design to do this. Do it the right way, though, and you will surely avoid losing your visitors.