404 Errors

This is an error message that surely you’ll have encountered on your travels through the worldwide web! This particular sequence of numbers means that the browser was able to communicate with the server but it was unable to find what was requested. It could be because the user had attempted to follow a broken or dead link. Pages become this way because they’ve either been moved or deleted by the webmaster.

Now you know it’s broken, what next?

Although it may seem quite benign, ultimately it’s a bit of a roadblock in what should otherwise be a fluid and smooth user experience. The 404 error can look bad unless something is done about it. So, what are the options?

Well, you can use a 301 redirect which will likely take visitors to the homepage as long as you’ve set that route (which may seem a bit confusing for some; expecting one page and getting the homepage). Alternatively, create a custom 404 and dress the dead page up as a sort of signpost that can now offer links hopefully directing users to where they originally intended to go. As it’s a ‘dead’ page anyway, some sites see it as an opportunity to put some humour into it which can be quite a relief if the rest of the website is straight to the point and serious.

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