Creating a 404 page is not at the top of anyone’s list as they design a site. The goal is for the user not to see your 404 page at all, so why would you pour a design budget into a page that ideally will never be seen? Well, 404s do happen. At best, they result in one annoyed user. At worst, you’ve got one less customer. No matter how much time and effort you put into making sure your website never (ever, ever, ever) has downtime, there’s always the chance that it might. Here are the Vine Digital team’s top tips for catching your 404s and turning those error pages into a conversion tool.
But First, What is a 404 Error?
This is a 404 error message code.
Not a good look, right?
A 404 appears when the page you were looking for couldn’t be found on the server. It’s a website-side error, which means that either the webpage was moved or removed, and the URL wasn’t adjusted. That or the user mistyped the URL.
Google Won’t Punish You for 404 Errors… But a User Will.
404 errors are an unavoidable fact of life. When a user clicks a link or image, they expect to be taken to where they want to go. When this doesn’t happen, it can make the user feel:
- Like losing their minds
- Like leaving your website and never coming back
Whatever their reaction, the standard 404 error disrupts a user’s journey through your website. It’s up there with slow page load time and will drive the user to other websites (potentially that of your competitors).
Bespoke, creative 404 errors, however, ease the user’s irritation of landing on the wrong page. They are:
By making your lost visitors crack a smile, you can lead them back down the conversion path and turn them into loyal customers.
Here’s How to Make Your 404 Error Generate Positive Reactions and Reflect Your Brand
It could be as simple as some cleverly crafted, witty copy, or you could take it further with some thoughtful CSS animation or a cool parallax scrolling effect.
It all comes down to one thing: how you make the user feel. Don’t make the user feel like it’s their fault for ending up on the page, even though that is technically the case! UX is the crux of making your 404 messages that little bit less of a pain.
- Include a hero image, site map, search form or basic contact information.
- Create an on-brand design.
- Provide them with the option to get back on track.
- Set up Google Webmaster tools on your website to check crawl errors.
- Use a free 404 checker.
The Vine Digital team considers all elements of user experience, accounting for all user paths – even the ones you don’t expect. If you need help designing a creative 404 page that reflects your brand and generates conversions, give us a call and see what we can do for your business.