The 404 error — aka File Not Found — is one of the most common errors we run into browsing the Internet. It can be frustrating, but broken links are common and inevitable. This is why having a good and professional Error 404 page is almost as important as having great contents. Sometimes it may not be your fault that visitors landed on the error page, but when it happens being able to hold their attention and lead them back to a relevant page is absolutely critical.
A well-designed 404 Error Page can help you avoid losing your visitor’s trust and potentially building up your readership even when everything is not perfect. In this article I give general advice on designing 404 error pages and have compiled a showcase of 50 professional and creative error pages.
404 Error Page Tips
Knowing how bad it is!
OK 404 error pages are typically not given the focus they deserve. Most webmaster believe that there will be no broken links on their site and typically they click on the right links themselves (unless they actually take testing really serious). While 404 error pages are typically not overrun with traffic it can be quite interesting to investigate the traffic analytics for it to learn how many clicks there are and from where. One way to get the actual number is to use Google Analytics and view stats for Content By Title. You are looking for the title “Page not found”. If there are pages with a high number of 404 hits you can use Analytics Entrance Sources view to know exactly where the requests came from.
What elements to add to a 404 Error page
When a visitor end on a page not found error page the main goal is to provide option for leading the person back into the site. One excellent option for this is a search feature and some funny graphics to make the situation less serious. In the showcase below you will find numerous examples of website that are sing illustrations this way.
Another good idea for a 404 error page is to provide useful links and suggest the visitor to go on and not leave right away!
Keep the design simple and consider to say sorry. A lot of sites use sentences like “holy crap the page is lost”, Uh-Ho, oops, woopsie and so on. It can be a combination with an illustration or an alternative way forward. It is important though that the visitor is not mislead, confused or unsure if the current page is a error page.