When accessing a website, users usually have a specific goal in mind. And technical problems are not something that they would expect. Hitting a dead end frustrates visitors and often makes them abandon the site, never to come back. But sometimes errors are inevitable, no matter how hard you try to avoid them. And the 404 error represents one of them.
What is a 404 Page?
A 404 error page is what visitors see when they attempt to reach a website’s page that no longer exists or may never have existed at all. There are some effective ways to fix a 404 page not found error like these ones, but you’ll never fully eliminate them.
There are some common reasons why this page appears:
- Page removal
- Site is offline
- Broken link
- Outdated link from a search engine
- URL mistyped by the visitor
Why Choose a Custom 404 Page Design?
Successful websites follow a golden rule of never using a standard 404 page. They turn this page into one more marketing tool by customizing it. Here’s how a custom 404 page design can help a site:
- It can encourage unhappy visitors to come back by giving them useful information, or even a just link back to the homepage.
- It can build a strong brand image by maintaining the same theme on all pages, thus creating a consistent image.
Source: Shop Disney
- Increase conversions by listing useful information, such as most popular site pages.
Some e-commerce stores go even further by offering popular products right on this page.
How to Design 404 Pages
It’s not as easy to create a stunning 404 page as it may seem. Read on to learn what you should take into account.
- Make sure you include a search bar
You can keep visitors on the website by granting them an opportunity to continue navigating from anywhere with the help of a search bar.
- Include links to popular posts or to the homepage
Blogs have turned into a must for many websites. And if you’re one of them, it’s a wise idea to engage users by adding links to the most interesting articles. If you are not running a blog yet, you can simply allow visitors to return to the homepage.
- Speak plain language
Don’t utilize technical terms to explain to users why they’ve been taken to the page. Clarify the situation in a very simple way.
You can even write something like a nursery rhyme to entertain site visitors.
Source: Blue Sky Studios
Don’t forget about the curious nature of human beings. You can include the reason why the error has happened.
One more tip: spice it up with some humor like Adobe, Lucasfilm, and Lonely Planet.
Source: Lonely Planet
- Make it easy for users to contact you
Give visitors a chance to reach you in order to report an error or ask a question, by accessing a special form or sending you an email.
- Allow users to join your email list
As we’ve mentioned previously, the 404 page can be a marketing tool. So use it to add new names to the email list. To make your offer irresistible, you can give a discount to new subscribers.
- Ensure design consistency by using the same colors, image styles, and typography across the whole website.
- Put animation to use in order to hold interest
Animation is all the rage today. You can make a design more attractive by utilizing animated elements.
- Make it one page
Though your principal aim is to create a great page, it shouldn’t be so long that visitors have to scroll. Try to be as laconic as you can, even if you’ve decided to add links to the most popular articles.
Source: The New York Times
- Add a login form
Some websites require users to be logged in to perform a search, so allow visitors to log in to your site from the ‘not found’ page.
- Enable social media sharing
If users love your 404 page, they’ll certainly want to share it with others. Allow visitors to share the page with almost no effort by implementing social media buttons.
Source: The Huffington Post
You can also add links to your social media accounts.
Source: Pixar Animation Studios
- Utilize gamification
If you want to stand out from the crowd, think of putting gamification to use. You can follow the example of Eastern Market; they turned their page into an old-school game.
Source: Eastern Market
Best Page Design Examples
There are more than 1.5 billion websites on the Internet today, and many of them have outstanding 404 pages.
See below real-life examples of 404 page design that will certainly pique your interest in 2018.
The ever-changing content makes this page worth your attention. Start reloading it, and you’ll never stop, as this page shows a new quotation each time it is reloaded.
This design has animated elements that make it much more entertaining than static pages found on the web. And we also like how the page describes the reason why the visitor is seeing it.
It not only has a funny image that you’ll immediately fall in love with, but it also includes links to the most important pages like the homepage, help center, registration, and more.
Mickey Mouse and Disney are inseparable, aren’t they? Visitors can return to the homepage by clicking the logo, or they can continue their search using the search box.
This page maintains brand consistency by utilizing the same colors, typography, and icons as elsewhere on the website.
Believe or not, animals’ eyes are following the cursor. So you can spend a couple of minutes playing with them, follow the link and visit the gallery, or go back to the homepage by hitting the logo.
It evokes childhood memories by showing the visitor an image of a game similar to the ones they used to play. It also allows the visitor to return to the homepage, and gives users a chance to restart their search.
This is how MailChimp tells visitors that their query wasn’t found. The chimpanzee in the image reminds users of the one in their logo. There’s no need to go back to the previous page to continue the search since a search bar is available.
If it’s your first time with the website, it’ll be pretty clear to you what it’s about immediately after you see the beautiful image. Newcomers can sign up, and registered users can log in from the same location.
This page explains in detail what has happened and how to cope with the situation. Visitors are offered links to the main sections of the website, and they can utilize a search box. They can also contact the support team using a phone number available on the page.
A great user experience is what today’s visitors expect from any website. To ensure this, and to leave competitors in the dust, website owners should use a unique design for all the pages. A custom 404 page may help to increase conversions and boost sales. In this article, we discussed how to create a great design. We hope that the tips and design examples prepared by the AGENTE team will give you the inspiration you need.