In an ideal world we would never need them, but 404 pages are necessary to alert visitors that a page has gone AWOL without panicking them. Web design is all about the user experience, so spending at least a little time on error pages is well worthwhile.
For those who don’t know, a 404 page is an error page that is displayed when a requested page has been moved, deleted, or renamed. Often deliberately, more often accidentally. It tells the user that something is wrong, and to move on. How we tell them that makes more difference than most of us realize.
Web design is a complex and time-consuming process. One that takes more planning than doing, but once a site is finished it’s immensely satisfying to see it live. While we certainly don’t want to add to our workload, being thorough is our watchword, so it’s only right that we include error pages in our website designs.
Here are some good reasons why a custom 404 page is a good idea.
1) If a website doesn’t have a custom 404 page, the browser will display a default one. It isn’t very pretty, and it doesn’t give the visitor anywhere to go. The idea of a website, is to keep people there as long as possible. Not providing at least a link back to the site is not going to cut it.
2) The browser default error page is full of jargon. Visitors either don’t know, or don’t care what it all means. Simplifying it, or making it amusing increases the sites appeal to the visitor.
3) The default page has no brand, or anything to remember the site by. If the visitor leaves from there, there is nothing to keep the site in their mind.
4) If a user tries to visit from an external link and see the default error page, they aren’t even going to see the site, or be able to enter it.
By using the website design on a 404 pages, and including links back into the site, you not only improve the appeal of the site, but also offer the visitor a quick way back in. It also adds that little extra something to the overall design.
Giving visitors what they expect to see lets visitors know they are in the right place, if not on the right page. Using the same design and layout avoids confusion and reduces visitor loss.
The web design will have some kind of navigation, which should also be present on the 404 page. That way, the site is instantly familiar, and give them somewhere to go.
A custom 404 page can also explain what happened in simple terms. Explaining to the visitor that the page isn’t there increases the chances of them sticking around and seeing what else is on the site. A light apology might be appropriate too.
Creating a custom 404 page in a web design is all about thoroughness. It improves the site, pleases users, and makes it easier for them to find what they are looking for.