Let’s face it: every once in a while you encounter a “Page Not Found” error message when you type or click on a link. It could be the landing page of an expired promotion, or some site updates were performed and some inbound links were forgotten in the old format. These things could happen to your website, as well. What really makes the difference in your favour is how you treat 404 error pages.
From your own experience, you can understand how frustrated a person becomes when, instead of the content or product they were searching for, they get an error message. Can you turn this frustration around and keep the visitor on your website? With the right approach, you can.
Here are our thoughts on the reasons to strive and create custom 404 pages for your website.
- Turn That Frown into a Smile
Great use of humour will lighten a visitor’s mood. They will understand your self-criticism at not being able to provide the information they were looking for, as well as the attempt to cheer them up. Many people will stick around on a website which displays 404 pages in a humorous way, especially if humour is accompanied by helpful links or a search box to direct people to other website pages.
- Improve Your On-Site SEO
Inbound links are a great way to improve your page rank in Google. Imagine that even a 404 page can do that for you with the proper approach! Here are a few helpful tips:
- Post a link to your homepage so that users can start their browsing session all over again
- Share your latest blog post or promotional discount landing page
- Give people a selection of links from your main product categories to browse.
- Show Off Your Creativity
The 404 custom page is a special kind of page, free from the other rules governing web design. You can be as creative as you can in displaying branded animations, artwork or anything which promotes your brand values and image in an artistic and even interactive manner.
For example, the company Blue Fountain Media invites website visitors to play a game of Pac-Man on their custom-made 404 Page.
- Show Your Human Face
The tech language of standard 404 pages is abstract and cold. Most people do not understand it. They perceive it as being accused of doing something wrong (just like Windows error messages).
However, a custom page reassures them and shows them there are actual people behind the website. And these people have the courtesy to tell them in plain words what the problem is, as well as direct them elsewhere on the website.
- Turn It into a Landing Page
Following the merger with another company, an office supplies retailer customised their 404 page to inform people of the new products available to them thanks to the merger. Even for small companies, which do not undergo spectacular changes, the 404 page is valuable digital real estate where you can promote your latest product.
There are many useful and creative ways in which you can turn your visitors’ disappointment into excitement by designing a custom 404 page. Therefore, there is no reason why you should let the browser decide what your prospects see on your page any longer.