You’ve worked hard on creating a beautiful website that functions well, shows off your personality, and gets visitors interested in your offerings.
Your home page is designed with strategy in mind. Your about page speaks to your prospect’s problems. You’ve worked diligently to find and write in your authentic copywriting voice. From your perspective, your website is good to go.
But is it?
If you’re like most people, you’ve missed a huge opportunity for your website without even knowing it. You’ve overlooked one seemingly minor, unimportant page: the 404.
What’s a 404 page?
Simply put, 404 refers to the HTTP error code for page not found. To you this means that when a visitor attempts to access a page on your website that doesn’t exist, they’ll be automatically directed to your 404 page.
The three most common reasons a visitor gets a 404 error are:
- They mistyped the page URL they were trying to reach
- They followed a link to a page that no longer exists on your site
- They land on a page that has moved
Most websites have a standard message that looks something like this:
Ideally, your site will be free of broken links or missing pages. But mistakes happen, things get shuffled or lost, and people will end up on your 404 page from time to time. Don’t worry about it. But also don’t ignore it.
Instead, take this apparent website flaw and reposition it as an opportunity to stand out. Customize your 404 page so that it makes an impression and keeps people on your site instead of leaving.
Why you need a custom 404 page
The default 404 message has absolutely zero personality. It’s unoriginal and easily forgotten. It may even be detrimental if it doesn’t somehow encourage your visitor to continue exploring your site.
But beyond those reasons, customizing your website’s 404 page makes strategic sense. Here are 3 reasons why customizing your 404 page is smart for business.
You can use this page to show off your creativity and reemphasize your branding. Make your visitor smile or laugh with a witty message. Leave a lasting impression with a memorable photo or graphic. Do something that ties into your brand story and engages your visitor.
Improved User Experience
You can turn what could be an unexpected and frustrating situation into one that’s no big deal. Show that you care by giving your visitor options on how to find what she’s looking for. Include a search form, site map, or contact information. Suggest links that might be helpful. Make it easy and simple for your visitor to navigate to a new area of your site.
You can customize your 404 page into a lead page that converts lost visitors into leads. Make the most of the situation and offer visitors something of value that piques their curiosity or interest. Ask them to sign up, join, contact you, or act in some other way.
A custom 404 page in action
eHarmony has taken the time to customize its 404 page in a smart and simple way.
Instead of giving its visitors this unhelpful message:
It gives visitors this visually pleasing, helpful page:
The photograph perfectly captures the company’s brand story. The copy is clear and compelling and includes a call to action (Join Now). Links at the bottom also give visitors the option to explore the site’s main pages or social media.
Simple changes that make a huge impact.
Take the time and make the effort to customize your website’s 404 page. It’s a smart move that can help set your business apart, impress your visitors, and keep people on your website.
Want some 404 inspiration? Check out these 30 brilliantly designed 404 pages. And if you’d like some assistance writing yours, reach out today.