Usually, when there is an issue with a website, it promptly displays the error message – 404 Page Not Found. While this can give your users a clear indication that the website that they are trying to reach cannot be accessed, it needs to be done in a way that does not drive the users away or create a less than average user experience. You need to realize that as a website designer, your duty is to keep the users hooked to your website instead of driving them away. Therefore, if your website ever props up the 404 error page to the users, the best thing that you can do is make it usable and design it in a way that will offer usability and a satisfactory or a good user experience. Given below are some tips that will help you design the 404 error pages with ease and far more creatively.
1. Make an effort to design a custom 404 error page
Usually, a 404 page is very basic and the default error page possesses absolutely no features that can offer usability to a visitor who lands on the page. Ideally, there will be certain pages in your website that may not currently exist and therefore, the 404 page that you design must be done in such a way that it guides the user out of the page that contains the 404 error and into the page that directed them to the error page.
Sometimes, a visitor may have found their way to your website through a search engine query and therefore, directing them back to the previous page in this situation will do you no good. Instead, you must create a link in the error page that directs the user to the homepage of your website. This will ensure that your visitor makes complete use of your website even if a page remains unavailable. You cannot expect a website visitor to spend countless minutes on your website when they have several other options at their disposal. Therefore, customizing the 404 page is crucial.
2. Do not make the 404 page too overpowering
When the user first lands onto the 404 page, it is very common for them to feel flabbergasted and confused. If you cram the page with too much information or too many links, it will only add on to the confusion and make matters worse. Instead, focus on keeping the design as clean as possible and include only the most essential links. As a rule of thumb, avoid including more than 2 links. Including breadcrumb navigation at this stage would be beneficial as it will guide the visitor back to the previous pages without any hassle. Including a search box would do your web design a world of good as the visitor himself can type in the search term, based on which the relevant information can be received.
3. Do not stray away from the main theme
As a website designer, you need to realize that familiarity works well and in the favour of website designs. You may want to get increasingly creative when designing a 404 page in order to keep your audience engaged, however, if you stray away from the main theme and use a completely different colour scheme, font and graphics for your 404 error page, it is only natural for the visitors to feel that they have been directed to a different website location. Instead, choose the same theme, keep the layout minimalistic and always include the logo of the company or the business on the 404 error page so as to ensure that audiences that the error page in fact belongs to the same website.