Saturday, February 03, 2007

404 Error Page - Another Opportunity to Improve Your Site

Sometimes the smallest things can have the biggest impact. One of the most overlooked aspects of a Web site is the 404 error page. Creating a unique 404 page is another opportunity to improve your site's performance and provide your site visitors easy access to other pages. Creating a 404 error page should be standard practice when redesigning a site.

What is a 404 error page? It’s the page you see when someone clicks on a broken link or a page that has been renamed. When that happens the site visitor will see a standard page that simply tells you the page is no longer available. It has no thrills, no other links, no branding and above all, very little helpful information.

The page usually starts off with these words:

The page cannot be found.
The page you are looking for might have been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable.

Your unique 404 error page should look like a regular page of your site. It should include your site’s header, footer and navigation bar so that the site visitor can easily click on another area of your site. The content of this unique 404 error page should contain text explaining that the page selected is no longer available along with contact information so the site visitor has the option of emailing or calling your company.

An example of our 404 error page can be found at:

You might want to check with your hosting company first to see if they allow you to create custom error pages. Just creating the page and uploading with your other page files is usually is not enough. You most likely will have to change how the error pages are handled through your hosting company. Most hosting companies have a hosting administration tool or control panel that you can use to change or upload your custom error page.