How to Design Your Website’s 404 Page (Part 1)

What’s a 404 page in the first place? For those who don’t know, a 404 page appears when someone clicks a faulty link. It’s a typical response to a defunct page. Not a lot of websites personalize the given error message on the 404 page. Usually, the page will just let you know that the link you clicked is “broken” or say that “page not found.” These days, web designers venture out and experiment on the 404 page.

Man Holding a Map.

Man Holding a Map.

In this post, I will give you tips on what to add on your 404 page. I will give you unique ideas on how to present your error message in a helpful and creative way. After all,  the page isn’t all fluff. It should offer assistance to the web visitors who have lost their way.

  • Lessen the impact of the error.

  • When your web visitors see an error, they already disappointed. What you can do is to lessen their frustration. Grab this opportunity to pacify the atmosphere. Remind them that you are doing your best to resolve the issue.
  • A generic promt would not help appease the situation. It will only give a very cold and uncaring impression. Ultimately, it will make your web visitors more disappointed. and abandon the page.
    • What to do to lighten things up?
    • Be like a friend!

    • Number 1 tip is to be friend. Draft a 404 page using a friendly tone. Design the page with a welcoming and amiable atmosphere. Remind them to check their link. Say something like, “Hi there, I’m sorry that you’ve stumbled upon this page. Perhaps, you clicked an incorrect or outdated link. Kindly check the link again.”
    • You can even tell a joke.

    • People feel bad upon seeing an error, but you can always lighten up the situation by adding puns, or sharing a corny joke. Add something funny to ease the disappointment. For example, “Oh no! The link is broken like all the broken hearts out there! Will fix this before Valentine’s Day!”Below that, you can add more options for them to click.
    • Be bold.

    • Grab the attention of your web visitors by adding you own personality. Blizzard’s 404 page is literally a broken page. It’s shocking for first time visitors, but it’s an awesome and unpredictable response at the same time.
    • Add interactive games.

    • Kualo‘s 404 page is more than just funny meme. When you’ve stumbled upon a broken link, it will notify you that space invaders took over the web page. An actual game similar to Space Invaders will appear.
    • See, the page, what once was considered a bearer of bad news, is now a very fun and exciting game.
    • The error will also give you the chance to get a discount. If you score over 1000 points, the game will grant you a web hosting discount. This proves that 404 pages are not always full of disappointment.
    • Be informative!

    • Aside from being sassy, friendly, and funny, this is also your chance to be of help to your web visitors. You can suggest resources and links about things that got lost.
    • The National Public Radio’s 404 page offers a list of informative posts about people who mysteriously disappeared like Amelia Earhart. Instead of thinking about your broken link, you will be more curious on what really happened to Amelia.

For more 404 design tips, you can check out part 2 right here!