Why you should design your 404 error page for your website

A 404 error page is an automated response code in http that tells your website visitor that the link they clicked on is broken.  If you have a website then you should have a 404 error page. No doubt that when a link is broken it is a source of frustration for your website visitor, so to alleviate this irritation more and more styles of 404 error pages are being designed to ‘lighten’ the mishap.  When done really well a 404 error page should not be a problem for your website visitors at all. The trick is to get creative when designing your 404 error page to be part of your overall digital marketing strategy.

User centric design

Did you know that by creating a great 404 error page you can boost site conversions?  Being different and perhaps using a little humour your 404 error page need not be boring or off-putting at all and no one wants to lose website visitors.  A great 404 error page is a great way to increase conversions and boost sales.

Why it matters

All websites experience bad links at some time, perhaps when products or services are removed, or content is deleted.  But this need not be a ‘bad’ experience for your website visitor. If your 404 error page is not reflecting your brand then there is no doubt at all that you are losing visitors who may not even bother returning to your site.  The 404 error page has become the most neglected part of websites, yet they can be a vital resource.

Keep visitors on your site

It’s no easy task to keep visitors on your site, especially when they land up on an unwanted 404 error page.  You can change that by designing a 404 error page that is aligned to your digital marketing and brand. It’s a good idea to complete a digital marketing course to find out how you can stop visitors from leaving your site.

There are a few tried and tested techniques to use when designing your 404 error page, which are:

  • Ease the error – Lessen the effect of landing on a 404 error page by explaining the error issue, which could be a mistyped URL, or a site re-launch.
  • Be brief – The last thing a visitor wants to see on a 404 error page is long-winded explanations.  Users are never happy to land on this page, but you can ease their frustration by being brief, which means no technical terms and speaking in plain terms.
  • Provide a solution – A great graphic with brief text is most times enough but it helps to give your visitor options to prevent them from leaving your site.  You can add a search bar, or contact information.
  • Keep your design aligned – You don’t want your site visitor to feel lost when they land on your 404 error page so keep your branding intact by using the same font, colours and style.


404 error and SEO

It’s widely known that your 404 error page isn’t beneficial to your SEO goals, however you can increase and control how your website visitors react to the dreaded 404 error page.  You want to prevent visitors from falling off your site. Depending on the frequency of your 404 error page, visitors can be redirected to your homepage, however this is not recommended.

Keep it simple

The second a visitor lands up on a 404 error page they want to jump right off the sight.  Keep your message interesting but at the same time simple and to the point. Allowing your visitors to see the ‘human’ element behind your 404 error message is a great tip that not only applies here but in your overall digital marketing strategy.

Help your visitor move seamlessly to correct the broken link as the most awesome message on your 404 error page is not going to stop the user abandoning your website.  

When you design your 404 error page always keep your visitor top of mind and help the user to find the information they are looking for quickly, which will encourage them to explore your website further.