21 March 2009
Without a custom "error 404 page not found" page you're likely to find a lot of visitors just clicking the cross and looking for the information they're after elsewhere.
The error 404 page's are actually just clumsy - if the webmaster is going to change the website navigation or remove pages they should update other links on the website to ensure that the "Page not found" error never displays.
Redirects are often a good way to get around these if a page has moved to a different location or if the page has been removed - but if there is going to be a 404 error you need to make it helpful.
On your "error 404 page not found" error page it's worth considering the following:
- Keep the website template so that it doesn't look like an error - but it keeps the website's continuity
- Provide the visitor with other useful links
- Look at what the user typed in and suggest some pages with similar spellings (what they could of meant to type)
- Provide the visitor with a search box so that they can actually find what they're looking for
- Don't give them lots to read as they may think it's another page and start reading and then find that you've actually wasted there time
Personally I think the search box and the "did you mean" functionality is the best as this provides the visitor with pages with similar spellings, or just lets the visitor get on with it and search for the page they're after elsewhere on the website.
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