One of the most under-utilized and unappreciated pages of a businesses website is the 404-page. This page is a great marketing opportunity to engage new visitors, lost visitors, and random visitors. The design of the 404-pages can make a random visitor stay on your website, take a look around and eventually find the information he or she was looking for in the first place.
What is a 404-page? Well, there will be times in your marketing effort where a link to your site gets broken. Ever click on a link or URL and get to a page that says something like: ERROR PAGE NOT FOUND. How rude! It is probably better to have a more useful message for visitors. Here are some alternatives to the old 404 page message.
Let’s Talk Design & Function
One of the goals of a well designed 404 page is to get visitors (even random visitors) to stay on your website. That is what you want, sticky-eyes, right? So, make that 404-page engaging.
Function: What should the page do?
Here’s what the page should do:
- The page should also make it clear as to why the visitor arrived at the 404.
- Then it should help visitors take action to get what they were originally looking for in the first place. Maybe they can find it on your site if they are random.
- Having a search box is effective. This gives them an action option.
- Having a list of useful resources or categories is also helpful.
Design: What should it look like?
First, it should match the overall design of your website, coordinating in color scheme, typology, and feel. It should be engaging, just as the rest of your site should be. Here are some examples of 404 pages just to give you some inspiration.
Kerry Sidberry of KerrySidberry.com
Part of Kerry’s branding is her brilliant RED color. She brought it to her website and carried it over to her 404-page. It simply engages the visitor.
Pat Flynn of SmartPassiveIncome
Pat’s page is cool and friendly, just like page. Also, a some non-intrusive self-promotion does not hurt. Actually, he tries to helps you find what you might be looking for.
Mike Locke of mlwebco
Mike keeps it clean and simple. His call-to-action is to clearly point you back to the main page because that is where he really wants you to go. Mike keeps the main thing the main thing.
Tim Ferris of 4 Hour Work Week
Tim keeps it simple by not doing too much but sure to give you helpful links.
Here are just some creative examples:
Take note of the branding. The design, in terms of marketing, should always reflect and project the brand.
Bucky Roberts of The New Boston and Buckys Room
And one of my earlier mentors, Bucky Roberts, simply redirects all links or click that do not have a page on his domain to the main page of the website. For him, everyone starts over. I do not recommend this but in absence of anything else, it is better than the old “ERROR PAGE NOT FOUND” 404-page.