A huge part of user experience is ensuring site navigation is as easy as possible, in order to retain anyone who happens to be browsing your site. But what happens if there’s a broken link or a page doesn’t load?
The answer has two scenarios: Either the user will leave, or with a bit
of help, will find their way to the right page. More often than not, in
these situations, it’s the 404 page that will decide the outcome, so how can you maximise their effectiveness?
If a user who’s already in your site lands on a page with a standard 404, they have the option of pressing the back button, so it’s fair to suggest they might not exactly leave the site straightaway. However, if they’ve arrived on a 404 directly from a search engine, you have no chance of retaining the visitor, unless you’re able to direct them onto another page.
In both instance, the default error message is truly horrific and doesn't really help the user, which is something we’ve touched upon in the past, looking at publishers' 404 error pages.
Customising the 404 page of your website to make it more appealing and more helpful is a great way to improve experience and capture users for longer. It’s a no-brainer, but something that’s often overlooked, even by larger web properties who should know better.
Here a few example’s I’ve managed to scavenge from the internet that demonstrate engaging 404 content:
7. Blog by Bape (404 real-time Tweets)