Your '404 page cannot be found' page is a landing page no one wants to land on. But if visitors will land there anyway, why not make the most of it and turn a negative experience into a positive one? You can even turn it into an opportunity!
In this article I’ll show you some 404 page ideas to convert visitors into leads by giving them a positive customer experience.
What are 404 Pages?
A 404 error (HTTP 404), also called a “header response code” or “http status code”, or simply "crawl errors", is the computer equivalent of saying “Not Found” or “Page Not Found.”
When a visitor clicks on a link to a deleted or moved page they’ll see your 404 page template. They’ll also see it if they mistype a URL, or click on a broken link.
You know the feeling. You click an interesting looking link to a page that you want to read, and Bam! 404 ERROR – Page Not Found. The result – annoyance and poor customer experience.
Although 404 page content can be annoying for a user, you can use them as an opportunity to connect with your audience. A well designed 404 page template can be the difference between someone bouncing from your website and a happy user. Here’s are some 4040 page best practices that will turn a negative experience into a positive experience:
404 Page Ideas that Improve the User Experience - the 404 best practices & example of 404 Pages
1. An Error Message
It’s important to tell users why they’re seeing a 404 page message. For example “This page does not exist or may have moved”. Remember, not everyone knows what a 404 error means and they may be confused as to why they’re not seeing the content they wanted.
You can see the the 404 page on this website does a great job of explaining to the visitor exactly why they are on the error page and what the user can do to find the right page.
Make sure you’re empathetic – you know that this isn’t what they wanted to see. As well as making your page more personable, it’ll also show that you’re human by addressing the mistake.
In keeping with their minimalist branding and clean look, the Airbnb 404 page template plays the empathy card with their image and provides some helpful links.
3. A Search Bar and/or Navigation Links
Including a search bar is very important. A search bar offers the visitor a direct avenue to try and find what they are looking for straight away.
Tell users how they can continue their journey by including nav links. Instead of closing the window or navigating away from your site, the user can find helpful and potentially relevant resources on another page.
You can see on Amazon’s 404 error page that the main focus for them is to get you to search.
4. Strong branding & Personality
By using your brand’s personality and look and feel, you can help a user become invested in your brand, regardless of what page they’re on.
Many brands turn to humour on their 404 page ideas and, if your brand allows, it’s a good way to re-engage your users with your brand.
Have a look at Lego’s error 404 not found page. Not only is Lego’s 404 page 100% on-brand, it’s also fun and easy to understand. It also gives the user lots of alternatives to continue their journey.
5. Design the Page to Look Like Your Site
Keep your users feeling like they’re still on your site and everything’s under control. Make sure it's designed with the same branding, colour scheme and tone of voice. That way users won't feel alarmed that they've come to a dodge page.
How to Turn Your 404 Errors into Conversions?
Your 404 error page is also an opportunity to deliver conversions just like any other optimised landing page. Here are some things you can add to turn your website error into an opportunity.
Link to Your Best Content
3 or 4 links to great content on your site should help guide lost visitors to something they find interesting.
Call to action
Remember what we said about your 404 page practically serving as a landing page? So apply some landing page logic: add in a download or signup button to your mailing, or at the very least, a search box.
The 404 page can allow you space to promote your key offer. You could even make clever use of this space by using an ad something like:
“We’re sorry you couldn’t find what you were looking for, to make it up to you, use this code XXXXX to receive FREE delivery on your next order.”
This encourages exploration of your products and services, increases conversion of users to customers.
Use Exit-Intent Popups
When a visitor is about to leave your site after landing on a wrong page, something can be done to stop them in their tracks.
Create an exit-intent popup.
A well-designed exit-intent popup on a 404 error page can provide value and give visitors a reason to stay on a website.
Although it’s often said that people, in general, don’t like pop-ups – I think it depends on what you are saying on that pop-up.
There are many ways you can use exit-intent popups on error pages for example offer a discount, download your lead magnet or sign up to your newsletter.
How Can I Find 404 Errors On My Website?
There are several good ways to go about this. I’d honestly recommend doing them all - since some tools can find issues that other tools don’t see.
Crawl your website. There are a host of really great crawlers, my favourite being Screaming Frog for small sites, and DeepCrawl for very large sites (both often work in all situations, it’s often a personal preference or budget consideration.
Check the Google Search Console (GSC - formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools) Coverage Report, in the Excluded section:
Check Google Analytics (GA) Search for page titles that contain “not found” or “404” - this is a nice list that tells you how many times a particular page has been hit, and therefore can better help you prioritise which errors need fixing first. You can also set up an alert to email you when a 404 page has been visited.
How Do I Fix 404 Errors? Can I Prevent 404 Errors?
There are a variety of ways to fix 404 errors, depending on your site’s setup/platform and your software development team’s capabilities/priorities. But the simplest answer is implementing a 301 redirect.
Helping you Turn Lost Visitors into Loyal Customers
Your 404 page is part of your website, this means that it should be optimised as it can also contribute to the increase in conversions and a decrease in the bounce rate. There are many things you can do to avoid making the visitor walk away after landing on your 404 error page.
If you make sure that your page offers a solution that can help visitors out of this dead-end, you will never go wrong.
Don’t forget to keep it simple. Overwhelming the user with a 404 page jam packed with links to every nook and cranny of your site is a surefire way to cognitively overload an already frustrated user!
Have you got personalised 404 page? Share you link in the comments to inspire other readers.