I’m sure you must have come across the error “404 – Page Not Found” at some time while surfing the web. The error comes when the page that you were trying to visit was either removed, its URL changed or if you followed a link then it was linked incorrectly. It also means that the website is accessible and functional however that particular page can’t be found by the server.
For a webmaster this is not good as it pisses off the visitor and they’d leave and who knows if that visitor was your potential regular visitor or client. By default, WordPress displays the “error page” and thanks to its theme engine it can be customized to ensure the visitor doesn’t go away from your site. Here are some of the features that I would suggest for a 404 Error Page Design -
- Inform that page cannot be found : Make it clear to the user that the page they were looking for is not available on the site.
- Give the power of search : Suggest the visitor to search through your archives, thus it makes sense to display the search box just below your error message.
- Flaunt your top posts : Make a list of top posts or most resourceful posts (if you don’t have them, stop reading this & write them now!) and show them below the search engine.
- Subscription Option – Errrmm, How about a message like this? “Couldn’t find the page you were looking for? Why surf when we can deliver top articles directly in your inbox! – Subscribe Now!!” I hope you get the point, I want to make.
- Humorous – Now a days, the trend is to make the 404 page humorous. Adding cartoon characters with a message is pretty common. This makes them unique and different from the rest and visitors love to spend time on such sites.
Again, its up to you that what you want put on the error pages as there is no limitation. You can put categories, create it as sitemap, tags, popular posts, advertisements and what not.
It’s even better if we can avoid them and keeping in mind Mani karthik has written a wonderful post mentioning various wonderful plugins for WordPress to manage 404 errors and the pages effectively.
Here are 10 WordPress plugins that will help you to manage, monitor and customize your 404 error pages, so that your visitors don’t leave your site annoyed. These will help you to manage your 404 error pages more efficiently.
The best way to think about the features or design is to know that what will you feel if you are presented with an “404 error page” on a site like yours and what will make you feel good. If you are still having hard time to think, then look at these examples -