You’re visiting a website and oops! Something went wrong. Did you do it? Was it the website? How do you figure out what went wrong?
If you’re like most users you’ll just hit your back button and try again. But what if it keeps happening and you aren’t sure why? That’s where a custom Error 404 page comes in.
The most effective Error 404 page will state firstly that something has gone amiss – without pointing blame. “We’re sorry, we must have misplaced that page, maybe these can help…”
Secondly it should help you find what you were looking for. You can do this by providing a link to the site map, to the home page, and a search box.
What should your Error 404 page look like?
Keep it simple.
Include your standard navigation, your logo, and footer so people know they are still on your website and can find their way back to something familiar easily.
Make sure the options are laid out in the order that will be most helpful for your site. For example a product site might want a site search first, whereas an informational site may want to link to the site map first.
What’s even better than an Error 404 page is having an easily navigated and well documented website. If your users can find what they need in a click or two they have less chance of getting lost and leaving your website.