When it comes to a website's 404 error page, there is a fine line between being interesting and annoying. 404 error pages are the most ignored internet pages because visitors aren't expected to land there. These pages show a broken URL, when a server is unavailable, or when there is no content.
You can engage users with your business and provide them with a fantastic user experience by designing a page that looks great on a 404 error. In this post, we'll discuss what a 404 page is, why having one is crucial for any website, and the fundamental features of a 404 error page.
It goes without saying that avoiding errors is the best method to deal with them. While visiting a website with a specific objective, users need more patience or the nerve to deal with technological issues. Therefore, it’s essential to take all reasonable steps to prevent mistakes.
In today's competitive online world, keeping customers engaged is helpful even when they arrive at an error webpage. At Fetchly, we maximize the potential of the URL structure to help with growth and brand improvement.
A 404 page can be mistaken for a purely technical page. However, it's also a chance to showcase the character and originality of your brand. An innovative 404 page will not only calm dissatisfied consumers and decrease bounce rates (the number of visitors who exit your site), but it can also showcase your brand identity.
So you've put a lot of effort into ensuring that your website is easy to use, has straightforward navigation, and is organized logically, but what happens if someone types in the wrong URL?
What happens if another website links to a page you no longer have? What will the user see when they arrive at your 404 error page? This article will answer these questions and explain what it means to design a beautiful and functional error page.
What is a 404 Error Page
Another name for a 404 page is an "error page" or "Page Not Found" page. The 404 page is displayed to users when they attempt to access a URL that does not exist on your server. You're not alone if you found that sentence difficult to understand. Let's break that down.
First, a web address is referred to in technology as a "URL" or Uniform Resource Locator. In general, URLs consist of three parts: (The Protocol, The Domain Name, and The Path)
As an illustration, think about the website "https://fetch.ly/blog
." The domain name is "fetch.ly
," the protocol is "https://
," and the path is "/blog
." If a user accidentally types "https://www.fetch.ly/blerg
," what happens? The server could access your website since they have the correct domain name. But the route they're trying to take is somewhere. Your 404 page shows at that point
When you type "https://www.feetch.ly/blog," however, a broken link appears. Even if the path is right in this instance, the domain name needs to be corrected.
Why are 404 pages important?
Landing on a 404 page can frustrate users, but hope is still possible. A well-designed custom 404 page can break the news as politely as possible while keeping visitors on the website.
Improved user experience: Users may need clarification or be given the idea that something major has gone wrong by default error pages that appear technical. The goal is to reduce the user's concern from "broken website" to "minimal inconvenience" by using a customized 404 error page to outline what transpired.
Retain Visitors on Your Site: Users will abandon a website and look elsewhere if they encounter a dead end on the default error page. However, by providing customers with a direct route to a new location on your website with a customized 404 error page, you can keep them there.
A Few Tips to Boost Website Performance: Most default server error pages lack analytics tracking tags. How many people view one? How many leave once they land on one? You can only know with the ability to apply analytics to it. Custom 404 error page analytics tracking capabilities can give useful information about the website's performance.
What should be on your 404 page?
Using Fetchly as a reference, here are elements included on a custom 404 error page;
Message: You can use any text in your 404 error message. Make use of it to appeal to your target audience. Choose a straightforward or sympathetic statement rather than one overly general, such as the one found on Fetchly's 404 page: "You may have mistyped the address or the page may have moved."
Design components: You should inform visitors that they are still on your website when they arrive at your 404 page. Because of this, the web design components on your 404 page must stick to the same overall design scheme as the rest of your website.
Your 404 page could use the same color scheme as the rest of your website, clearly display your company logo, or even include graphics associated with your company.
Link to another page(s) on the website: Make it simple for users to return to their original path. Even if you are still determining exactly where they want to go, provide links or calls to action (CTAs) to some of the website's most visited or highest-converting pages. You can boost the chances of making sales by directing visitors to these pages.
Common Errors with Custom 404 Pages to Avoid
Avoid Redirecting to Error Pages: Make sure your website displays the error page's content and does not send visitors to a URL like /404 or /error.html. Redirecting will stop users from looking at the problematic URL and won't provide any valuable data for your web analytics.
Avoid Redirecting to the Homepage: It may seem like a brilliant approach to send all users to the homepage rather than letting them see a mistake, but search engines disapprove of this and will consider instances as soft 404s. It is entirely acceptable to send users to the homepage for specific URLs where the homepage is the next most important page, but it is not acceptable to send users there by default.
Avoid Redirecting with a Meta Refresh Tag: It is generally not a good idea to navigate a user out of a page without getting their permission; hence it is advised against doing this for your website. All browsers do not support the meta refresh tag, which can become a bit buggy. A quick automatic refresh can confuse users, making them question the website's security. It also lowers the SEO score of the page.
In a nutshell
No two 404 pages are ever the same. Companies can create their pages in many different ways. Some people talk about the business at hand right away, while others approach visitor interactions with humor. In any case, you want to create your 404 page to provide a path for visitors.
Fetchly deliberately works on the outlook and functionality of the page so that when potential clients land there, they see no reason to leave, they can communicate with the brand, and the project managers can interact with them.
*This is not the official Fetchly opinion but the opinion of the writer who is employed by Fetchly*