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Custom 404 Pages – File Not Found

Here is the scenario. Your website consists of numerous pages that have been around for many years. Recently a few of your products have been discontinued and these pages need to be deleted. By removing these pages the navigation will be updated so visitors don’t accidently go to non-existing pages. But what happens to all the other websites and search engines that link to these old pages? The solution is a custom 404 page.

404 Custom Pages

Continuing with the scenario, let’s say thousands of websites link to the following web address… www.wisnet.com/jinglebells/. In addition, Google, Yahoo and Bing bring in many visitors to this page. Your company decided to discontinue making jingle bells. Therefore you don’t want to advertise old products that are nonexistent. What will happen when visitors reach this page? Will it be a boring, non-informative page that doesn’t provide any information but ‘404 – File or directory not found’? Or should it be interesting, helpful, and maybe fun? Could it reflect your brand or identity and maybe give them some direction as to where to go next? Then a custom 404 page is the answer.

An example of a 404 error.An example of a 404 error.

Custom Designed 404 Page to the Rescue

Keep your visitors engaged with an attractive and informative page. Here they should easily be able to navigate back to the previous page. The page could also show related information and keep them engaged to stay longer on your site. A simple example of a custom 404 page is to build in the error code within the design of your site. In the example below the visitor is aware of the error and has the opportunity to click on navigation buttons to proceed further into site.

Ferris Consulting is using a standard and helpful 404 page.Ferris Consulting is using a standard and helpful 404 page.

404 with a little style…

Now that you understand what a 404 page is meant for don’t you feel a little geeky? The history of the 404 page can transfer you to the kingdom of geekdom if you dare to read. Recently, with the launch of wisnet.com’s new website, 404 custom pages were needed as much of the original content was removed from the website. They decided to embed the 404 error within the new site design to clearly tell visitors that what they are looking for can not be found. In addition, a fun twist was added to make the page more appealing. Go ahead and check it out for yourself.

wisnet.com’s custom 404 page.wisnet.com’s custom 404 page.

Conclusion

What may look like a useless page is a marketing tool and if used properly can enhance the experience when visiting your site. Your popular articles, products and pages can be added to the 404 page to direct visitors to other parts of the site. Plus, an interesting and fun comment or photograph can boost your image respectively.