You’ve seen them. They’re those intimidating pages with white backgrounds and big black text that say…
404 – Not Found
What does it mean? How do you get back to where you were?! From a customer/visitor’s perspective, that’s one annoying page. There’s no explanation, no information, and no links to get them back to what they were looking for!
Don’t let your “404 Page” scare people off when it’s easy to fix!
To create a custom 404 error page, take these two steps:
1. Create a fun page for the 404 errors to go to.
Tell them what’s wrong:
You might say something like “We’re sorry, but aliens attacked my website and destroyed the page you were looking for!” or “Oops… I think the server lost that page…” Make sure it’s clear that the problem is that the page they tried to visit doesn’t exist anymore. Blame Godzilla’s destruction, the Ferengi who sold the page in pursuit of Latinum, Darth Vader’s dark side, the black hole that ate it, or your serger that’s on the blitz. Whatever fits the style and topic of your website.
Give them choices:
Add links to your home page, any other main pages of your site, and a search box so the visitor can easily find something else they’re interested in.
Create a “We’re Sorry” offer:
Add a special offer to the page. Maybe it’s a subscribe box for your newsletter offering a freebie when they opt-in. Or try a coupon code good for their next purchase. Offer something that gives them a reason to stick around browse your site more.
2. Tell your server where that 404 page is.
Once you’ve created the page and put it on your site, you’ll need to tell your server where to find it. If you’re on a cPanel server you can do this inside cPanel under the “Error Pages” link, or with your .htaccess file.
Just send a ticket to your website host and let them know what you want to do and they’ll be able to help you get it up and running.
Don’t forget to test to be sure it’s working! To test it just type in your domain name followed by a page you know doesn’t exist. For example, www.yoursite.com/fakepage.html That should bring up your new, very cool 404 page.
And now you’ve got a customized 404 page that will make your visitors smile and entice them to stick around instead of frustrating them and causing them to give up and go elsewhere! It might even get your website mentioned to a friend or two.