Creating Custom 404 Pages

Jun 17, 2010

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Everybody makes mistakes and when you make a mistake online you get a nice 404 Message. This message basically says that you have looked for something that does not exist. When building a website you will want to build a custom 404 page in order to help your visitors that make mistakes sometimes. Here is what Google Chrome looks like for those who are searching for something that does not exist:
google showing a 404 page

When you are designing and writing 404 pages you are really providing a better user experience for those who might have made a mistake on your site or while they were trying to find a page on your website. Here are some good examples of custom 404 pages with some humor:
bone appetit showing a 404 page showing a 404 page

Who doesn’t like to see Homer Simpson:
404 page showing Homer Simpson saying D'oh

Here is a 404 page from the infamous Heinz company: 404 page with empty ketchup bottle 404 page

a ninja stole this page 404

Here is a play off of Twitter:
fowl has flown the coop 404 page

guy shooting himself 404 page as a joke

Here is a good 404 page for a technical type of website:
404 wanted web page

As you can see there are all kinds of things you can do with 404 error pages. The most important thing of having a custom 404 page is to improve your customer retention. As I mentioned earlier everybody makes mistakes and your website visitors can click on a broken link, misspell url’s, bookmark a page that no longer exists or whatever reason they more than likely will encounter a 404 some times. A good custom 404 page should not be the cold normal 404 page that users normally get. Instead they should be user friendly and should have a navigation. This is a perfect way to encourage your customer to continue using your website and to easily help them find their way by offering other valuable links that they may want to look at. In the end creating custom 404 pages is really good for search engine optimization simply because it increases the usability of the site and keeps people on your site and more importantly happy with your site so they will bookmark it or share it with their friends. Having a quality navigation or at least a link to your home page should be on every 404 page. Including a search box on a 404 page would be a perfect solution to help a user find something. On a 404 page you do not want to make the user feel stupid so the best way to do this is to have some humor and help them out a little bit.

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