The Importance of a Good 404 Error Page
by Gaurav Gupta
We already refer to HTTP, the protocol based on an order and response scheme that allows us to browse the Web. When we request access to a web resource (which can be a page, an image, a video or any other file hosted on a server), we receive a status code, consisting of a three-digit number, which informs us the result of the petition. In particular, codes whose first digit is 4 indicate that we could connect to the server, but there was an error on the part of the client.
The best known is code 404, Not Found, which we get when we request a resource that does not exist on the server. We may want to access a recently deleted file, or have followed a broken link, or have mis-written the address,
What would happen if a user, browsing our website, encountered this problem? You should find more than just a standard message in black letters on a white background. Like the pages corresponding to other codes, the 404 in particular can and should be customized, for the following reasons:
-It is recommended for a good positioning in search engines.
-“Default” messages from browsers often employ technical jargon that can be problematic for most users.
-A 404 page generated by the browser will not contain a menu of links that allow the user to continue browsing our website. That is why he will most likely abandon it.
Many developers forget to customize this page or neglect it, limiting to include a two line message that respects the design of the rest of the site. They mistakenly consider that an error page is less important than the contact page or the news page. However, there are many examples of pages of 404 crafted with creativity and dedication. What characteristics do they present?
-They maintain the design of the other pages, making the user feel “content” inside the site and do not believe that it was lost.
-They explain in detail the problem, why it might have happened and how to solve it. They can even ask the user to report a broken link if that was the cause.
-They do not blame the user for the error, or they do it but in a humorous tone.
While it is useful to have a good 404 error page, it is ideal to periodically check the site for broken links, to reduce the possibility of the user landing on it.