When a user reaches a page which has been deleted, renamed or moved, they see a 404 Error page. This is a sorry screen which should be redirecting a person who has come to look for something. The aim of this page is to redirect the visitor to the appropriate page rather than make the user feel that they have reached a dead end and need to start a new search again. This should be done in order to avoid confusion. you shouldn’t use a horrible looking screen here making the visitor feel that they have made a big mistake. If this is done nicely, it will only enhance user experience. Otherwise, it may make bad impression on a visitor’s mind.
What are the causes of a 404 Error page?
The most common reasons for a user to encounter a 404 error page:
- The webpage URL has changed.
- The link is not spelt right.
- The page may have been deleted.
- The site may be offline or taken down for maintenance.
- The page may have been moved or deleted.
How can this error be bad experience?
This error page may be turned into either a good user experience or a bad one. Some of the reasons why it may yield bad results:
- Too much of jargon, so the user does not understand what is happening.
- The message is not customized, and the users are not sure why it happened.
- It is a dead end road, so the user has to start a new search.
The last two are especially bad when you consider a visitor following a link from another website, and they get this error. First impressions count, and if this is the first page they see of your site, it’s not a good thing at all! The visitor might assume that the entire site is down, where actually the only problem is that a page has been renamed.
Customize your 404 error pages
It’s possible to customize the 404 error pages that people will see on your website. This allows you to make the page look exactly like any other page of your site, but display a clear message to your visitors telling them that the page they are looking for has not been found.
Give people what they expect to see
If a 404 error page is customized, then it will help the user explore other places of the site if they still exist. This will clear the confusion and encourage the visitor to try other things on the site. It will also help in letting the user know that they have actually come to the right site but due to certain reasons the page is down. So try, prepare and avoid embarrassment.