|October 4, 2003
How to Create Good Custom '404 Error' Pages
When visitors to your site misspell your URLs, or follow broken links to your pages,
their browser will display a '404 Error' page that will tell them that the page they were
trying to access does not exist. At this point, they will most likely leave, rather
than trying to guess how to get to their intended destination.
Fortunately, there is an easy solution to this problem: create a user-friendly custom
'404 Error' page.
If you own your domain, your web host will most likely offer you the possibility of
uploading a custom '404 Error' page, which will be automatically displayed every time
somebody tries to access a non existent URL within your domain.
You can design your custom error page using the same editor you normally use to create
your regular web pages. There are a few things you can take into account when designing
your error page, to provide your visitors with the best possible user experience:
- Brand your error page with your logo and the look and feel of your site.
- Provide your visitors with a link to your main page (homepage).
- Include a link to a site map, or display links to the main sections of your site.
- Include a search box for those visitors who don't
want to take time to navigate your site to find the information they need, so they can
just type-in their selected keywords, and immediately get a list of all the relevant pages
within your site.
To upload your custom '404 Error' page, ask your webhost or visit their website for
directions. Most web hosts use Cpanel, a popular interface that allows webmasters to
perform website management and control tasks. If your web host is using Cpanel, log in and
go to the main menu, where you will see a link to the 'Custom Error Pages' section.
After following that link, you will be able to easily upload your custom '404 Error' page
using a built-in web based HTML editor (just cut and paste the HTML of your custom error
page and click the 'upload' button).
To see an example of a custom 404 error page that incorporates the guidelines outlined
in this article go to Accord
Marketing's 404 Error Page .
You can freely reprint this article provided that you
include the following resource box:
Mario Sanchez is a Miami based freelance writer, who focuses on web design and Internet
marketing topics. He publishes The Internet Digest ( http://www.theinternetdigest.net ), a
collection of web design and Internet marketing articles, tips and resources. You
can freely reprint his weekly articles in your website, ezine, newsletter or ebook.
Design for the Web: How To Improve Error Messages,Help, Forms, and Other Crisis Points:
(by 37signals) The folks at world-class redesign firm 37signals have brought to
life the topic of forms, confirmation pages, error messages and 404 pages. Following
the tips in this book can make the difference between having one-time visitors and repeat
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