Web site design: how to make a 404 page.
On sites, especially those with a complex structure and large volume, it is very important to have the so-called 404 page – the page that the visitor gets to if there is no document for the requested address for some reason. 404 page got its name by the server response code, which in the absence of the requested page is received by the browser.
A 404 error appears when various changes occur on the site.
For example, if some obsolete article on a site is deleted, but at the same time links to this article are preserved in other documents, then when visitors try to click on such links to the desired article, 404 errors will be generated. And it depends only on the site’s administration whether visitors will remain in this situation or leave it forever.
The fact is that the 404 error seriously annoys Internet users, and if the page with this error contains only a message like “404 Not Found – The requested URL was not found on this server”, then most likely users will simply close this page and forget about the site. Custom 404 page will help to “save” the situation.
If the site is static, then the 404 page must be created manually and loaded into the root directory of the site. At the same time, in the .htaccess directives, it is necessary to configure the redirection of visitors to the loaded page when a 404 error occurs. It is important to take into account when creating a 404 page that it can be called from anywhere on the site, and therefore all elements of such a page should contain either absolute links of the form HTTP: //site.com/images/error.png, or relative links of the form /images/error.png
In many Content Management Systems (CMS), redirecting visitors to a 404 page is configured by default. But in this case, usually, the 404 page has a standard look – such as provided by the content management system installed on the site. Personalization, so to speak, 404 pages will provide several advantages.
As a rule, the standard 404 page only informs the site visitor that the document requested by him was not found. At the same time, the visitor does not know what to do next. A well-designed page 404 will help visitors find a way out of this situation, and, perhaps, it will help to not lose their target audience.
The easiest way to help site visitors who are on page 404 is to place a link to the site’s home page on this page, as well as links to the site map (optional). You can also place a search block on page 404 so that visitors can try to find the information they need on other pages if they wish.
A custom 404 page can have a design-attractive look, for example, it can repeat the overall web site design, but in a somewhat simplified version, because the number of elements on this page should be minimal. And there is no need to place on the 404 page many links to other pages of the site: contrary to expectations, this will not help visitors, but on the contrary will confuse them even more.
On the 404 page, it is always important to place the inscription “404” in a prominent place and in large enough font, which Internet users have already strongly associated with “broken” links and “outdated” pages that have been deleted from sites. When a visitor to the site sees the inscription “404” on the page, he understands that some kind of error has occurred and begins to correct it.
By the way, in order to make the 404 page on the site more useful, some site owners consider it necessary to place ads on such a page. This may seem very profitable, but it’s really not worth doing it, because the main purpose of a personalized 404 page is to help visitors to the site, and not its “monetization”.