Have you ever been browsing the internet and reached a page screaming, “404 Error Page!” and been afraid you had done something terribly wrong to harm your browser and/or computer?
Have no fear! We have all been there.
Good news is that is completely normal for a user to come across a 404 error page, and for your small business website to return one. Because in the definition of a 404 Error Page (or HTTP 404 for our more technical audience) it describes the error as a web page that simply could not be found when attempting to follow a broken or dead link (or one that you’ve typed in incorrectly).
While this still may seem a little scary, Google Webmaster Support reassures us that “404 errors don’t impact your site’s ranking in Google, and you can safely ignore them.” They even offer some tips on how to fix them for a better user experience for your visitors:
- See where invalid links are coming from by viewing the Linked from these pages section in your Google Webmaster Tools account, which you reach by clicking the URL
- Fix or delete those links from your own site
- Capture intended traffic from misspelled links on other sites with 301 redirects (which you can find more information about here)
Since these errors are harmless, it has become a trend for brands to creatively customize them. The other day, I stumbled across a Tumblr page named FourZeroFour which highlights many, and I mean MANY, humorous and imaginative 404 error pages across the web.
Below are a few of my favorite examples that demonstrate key components to include on your error pages in the best interest of your users – just in case they happen to end up there!
1. Ditto keeps it BRANDED
The DC construction company Ditto did a great job of representing their brand on their error page. Sometimes the 404 page can be the first experience a user has with your brand; for example, if they found a faulty or old link from a referring site. Therefore, keeping the error page in sync with your brand identity is important. Without knowing who Ditto was, I could easily assume from their witty error page they were involved in construction – and had a sense of humor!
2. Airbnb gets you where you want to go with NAVIGATION
The unique lodging company Airbnb included one of the most essential aspects of a 404 error page: navigation. Since your visitor has obviously reached a dead end in their search for information from your site, it would be beneficial to guide them back to where they intended to go. Most 404 pages just include a link to get back to the homepage, but Airbnb went one step further to provide some of their most popular links to get users exactly back to where they wanted to be.
3. TinyCarrier keeps you connected with SOCIAL
The crowd sourced international delivery service TinyCarrier is on many social networks and links to every one of them on their error page. Giving new or experienced users a way to connect on a variety of platforms is a great way to keep the conversation going about your brand when it could have stopped right at the error page.
4. TrackMaven ensures the best experience with a way to CONTACT SUPPORT
The competitive digital marketing service TrackMaven shows they are dedicated to the best experience for their user by providing a support link on their 404 page. In case the 404 error is actually TrackMaven’s fault, in which a link that should be working is broken, their link brings up an email message to their design team letting them know which URL you were unsuccessfully trying to access. Not to mention, TrackMaven makes everything light-hearted. Since their mascot is a dog, the link instructs users to “bark at us,” and the email tells them that the “page has been eaten!”
5. Huffington Post keeps you calm with a page that is FUNNY
The famous media outlet Huffington Post provides comical dog pictures on their 404 error pages to reassure you that there isn’t a serious issue with this particular URL error. The best part about their error page is that while the message stays the same, the photo changes each time you land on the page. This keeps things fun, interesting, and gives you a great impression of the Huffington Post brand.
For inspiration on how to get ALL of these elements onto one page, take a look at the digital agency, Spry.
Not only do they have an adorable puppy moving in the background, but they include witty text to navigate you back to their main pages, get in contact with their team, or reach out to them on social. I found this page so intriguing that I researched why they chose to include the dog. Turns out he is part of the “Quality Control Team.”
What’s the best 404 error page you have seen on the web? Share the link with us in the comments!
About the Author: Deanna Zaucha is the Content Marketing Coordinator for Webs and Pagemodo, and also manages our social media presence. She can be found on a dance floor, or on her iPhone keeping up with trends in marketing and tech. Get more from Deanna on the Webs Blog and Twitter.