No one likes a 404 Page, but there’s no reason it shouldn’t be included in your strategic web design. Here are some creative ways to align the dreaded 404 with the rest of your marketing and branding strategy.
Making the 404 Page Work for You
It’s as a chance to improve your UX. Everything on your site should consider a part of your User Experience (UX). Research shows the sense of making progress that comes from moving through a site is important for the UX of your visitors. So make sure your 404 isn’t a dead end. Link it to other pages (your homepage and other important landing pages) so people keep moving and have somewhere else to go. A search box is another way to make sure your 404 Page keeps people engaged.
Tell people what’s happening. Don’t just stop at telling people what’s wrong, tell them why. And keep it clear and simple. Of course, you want to tell people what to do next, too— that way they don’t stay stuck.
The less clutter, the better. It makes sense that if clutter is bad for the rest of your site, it’s not good for your 404, either. The pros recommend up to four links, a clear description, and media or image that shows you didn’t neglect the page just because it’s a 404.
Anything and everything is branding. It may be someone’s first interaction with your site. Everything you do online is part of your brand. So, your 404 should align with the rest of your messaging and overall look.
Keep a sense of humor. If you’re going to humanize your brand and connect with your user, you can’t take yourself too seriously. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge the error in a lighthearted, amusing way. Besides, people want to remain engaged with you when you make them laugh.
Keep them to a minimum. It’s true that the 404 page is unavoidable, but that doesn’t mean you should let it slide. We recommend handy tools like 404 Checker and Screaming Frog to make sure your users encounter fewer error pages and have a more streamlined UX.
Bottom line: 404 error pages are nothing to be scared of. You can (and should) make them a cohesive part of your branding. Done right, it can be turned into an enjoyable part of your site, and a memory element of your User Experience. How do you minimize your 404s? Share your tips in the comments!