Your 404 error page is a landing page no one wants to land on. But if users 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 how.
The Dreaded 404 Error Page – What is It?
When a visitor clicks on a link to a deleted or moved page they’ll see your 404 error page. 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.
The 404 experience, especially if it happens multiple times on the one site, can greatly impact the users perception of the business in question and reduce the chances that they will become a customer.
Some websites try to get around users ever seeing 404 pages by redirecting all 404 errors to their homepage. However, this often results in poor user experience as it doesn’t explain why a user has suddenly landed back on the homepage. Also, it’s not always relevant to the users’ journey.
Although 404 pages can be annoying for a user, you can use them as an opportunity to connect with your audience. A well designed 404 page can be the difference between someone bouncing from your website and a happy user. Here’s how.
What Should Your 404 Error Page Include to Improve Your Customer Experience?
1. An Error Message
It’s important to tell users why they’re seeing a 404 page. 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.
Starbucks does a great job of explaining to the customer exactly why they are on the error page and what the user can do to find the right page.
Starbucks 404 Error 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 page plays the empathy card with their image and provides some helpful links.
Airbnb 404 Error Page
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 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 pages 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 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