How to improve that dreaded 404 page

Published: August 2017

It’s happened to all of us. You’ve clicked a link and…you’ve ended up in the middle of nowhere, the dead end – the 404 page.

I know you probably think your visitors never see a 404 page when browsing your fantastic website, but you can bet they have. A lifespan of a web page is only 100 days, and you’re likely to see a quarter of your links disappear every seven years. Just because a 404 page isn’t what you want your customers to see. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make it look as good as the rest of your website.

Keep it on brand

By making sure your 404 page looks like the rest of your site (include your navigation bar too) it gives the strong impression that you are in control of the situation. A basic 404 page looks like your website might well be broken or ineffective. You’re also giving your visitor something much nicer to look at, with lots of opportunities to click a link or a button and get back to your website.

Reduce bounce rate

A basic 404 page could lead your potentially customer off your website! Make sure there are plenty of opportunities available for them to interact with you. A basic link to the homepage is a good start, but you can do better than that. You could also include a search form, or a list to your most viewed pages to grab their attention.

Be human!

Plenty of people don’t even know what a 404 error is – so it doesn’t mean anything to them. So explain that something has gone wrong with the link, and keep it casual. Your visitor doesn’t need a technical explanation, just instructions on what to do next. Keep it light and airy, so they know that nothing is seriously wrong with the site. You can even use this opportunity to introduce a bit of humour.

Watch your language

Don’t blame the visitor. Whose fault it is really isn’t important. It might well be that the visitor misspelled the link, but chances are the blame lies with you. Say sorry, and use words like ‘we’ and ‘us’ when talking about the reasons why it happened – not ‘you’!

Don’t redirect immediately

Some websites like to bypass 404 altogether, and send visitors straight to the home page. This sounds like a good idea – until you think about what that would be like for the person using that website. The user would probably be very confused as to how they got there, and would most likely keep trying the same link again only to get frustrated.

We can help

We can support you with all aspects of web design, and 404 pages are just one of them. If you need someone to give your website a refresh, or build you a brand new one from scratch – you’ve come the right place. At Urban River, web design Newcastle agency, we are always happy to support your business growth, online and offline. Pop in for a chat to find out more.

Take a look at another blog > Click here to read about how you can keep your website secure


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