7 Ways to Make Your 404 Page Better

Posted on June 8, 2016 | Updated on January 22, 2021

We meet again, 404 page.

This page is your website’s worst nightmare. It means that an error has occurred, and it gives the user two options: They can either go back to your website, or they can leave.

In the case of your 404 page, you want to make sure visitors stay on your website. This is why it’s important that your page is effective and makes sure the user wants to stay.

Here are seven ways to make your 404 page better.

Link to Homepage

No matter where a visitor is on your website, they are always one click away from leaving. It’s your job to make sure they stay. Nothing entices a visitor to leave your website more than a 404 page.

A 404 page is often a dead end. The visitor sees an error message, realizes there’s nowhere else to go and leaves. Avoid this by adding a link to your homepage or popular articles on this page. The user may have taken a wrong turn, but get them back on track by adding a link that’ll redirect them.

Add More Content

Your 404 page doesn’t have to be just an error page. You can add content so the user gets something valuable out of a mishap.

You never want a 404 page to appear on your website. But what if it did, and the user received an extra ounce of content? You can include a short article, FAQ page, or video on your page so the visitor still gets a positive experience from an otherwise negative situation.

Add Humor

Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the 404 page!

OK, that was awful. Don’t use that. But humor can certainly make it easier for the user to forgive you. A funny pun about the error or your brand name can go a long way in maintaining the user’s trust.

Use Consistent Design

Your entire website follows the same design. Your 404 page shouldn’t be an exception.

You only hurt yourself when you use a standard page template. It’ll seem unnatural and off-putting. The same design as the rest of the website will let the user know that they’re still on your website and they haven’t clicked on a link that redirected them elsewhere. If the page looks completely different, the user might think something horrible happened, and this will cause them to leave before they process the information.

Extend Your Brand

Your brand is unique. You have a unique style, tone and essence that defines your brand. Use this in your 404 page.

You can be creative with your page and make it an extension of your brand. You can turn a negative into a positive by making your page an advertisement for your brand or an extension of your brand’s message.

Make It Fun

What if your 404 page is so much fun that the user wants to get to it?

Alright, maybe it won’t be that fun. But you can certainly make the users’ experience more bearable. Add a game to your page so it seems like they accidentally stumbled upon a secret page. This will also get people to talk about your website.

Communicate the Error

A 404 page can be confusing for people who aren’t familiar with it. They might think they did something wrong or the entire website is down.

Make sure you communicate what the error is so the user doesn’t panic. If they know exactly what they’re dealing with, then they’ll most likely re-visit the website.

Better for Your Business

A 404 page is an unfortunate occurrence that isn’t good for business. Make sure you put some thought into it and turn that error into a positive experience for the user.

About The Author

Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her exploring the outdoors with her husband and dog in their RV, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or curled up with a good book with her cats Gem and Cali.

You can find more of Eleanor's work at www.eleanorhecks.com.

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