Morning! It's bright and early (okay strike that, it's after 8am which according to the mooses is near the afternoon) and you won't believe the utter melodramatic thrills that crashed down upon me this morning.
There I was at the remarkably chipper time of 4:28am, and I dropped a person a note asking them to contact me. She did!
Well, actually, no, she didn't.
But she did….patiently try.
See, she found my contact form and sent me a note…but the response of said form was the dreaded
ERROR 404: FILE NOT FOUND
Obviously, this was not a good thing at all!
'matter of fact, one could liken it to discovering your children had set down the brand new salt container on their spilled Capri Sun, thus making the cardboard bottom so sodden (all together now, "How sodden was it Barbara?") that when Barbara picked it up, the bottom promptly fell out and 8.5 ounces of pure sparkling scrubby-like teeny tiny salt crystals sprinted across my kitchen counter.
My. That was a grammatically incorrect sentence if I've ever seen one!
I will admit,however, it does make for a smashing analogy (she said, after she cleaned up the entire mess and made a mental note to inflict 8 hours of non-stop Barry Manilow songs on her kids).
But I digress.
Anywhos, I quickly found and fixed the problem but then realized…..I needed to update me 404 page meself!
Allow me to introduce you to my pal "EEEK!".
My pal EEEK! is the result of me hacking up the page in WordPress that displays error messages!
I'll get into that in a second, but I did want to first walk you through the following powerful ideas….ideas you can apply right now to your site as well.
Astonishing Idea #1.) Make your 404 page work for you!
What should your error page include?
Well, for me, I wanted to address the needs of my customers asap. But because the whole theme of my site is "memorable", I first wanted to acknowledge their frustration of arriving at a non-existent page.
From there, I realized that my customers probably had a better idea of what they craved than me, so I included in a search form. However, sometimes that's not enough!
The next way I could help my customers was to list:
- The key points of site
- My social networking resources
- My Facebook Fan page
and when all else failed, offer them a chance to ring the bell.
Remember, though….that's ME! Tailoring my 404 page to the above suits my specific needs….it might not suit yours.
So ask yourself – when customers lands on my 404 page, what benefits do I want to give them?
You could list your most popular products, links to your personal networking community, offer a freebie in your niche and the like.
Takeaway: Whatever it is you do, you simply *need* to ensure it accurately reflects *you* and your own memorable uniqueness.
In other words, it shouldn't look like this.
Stellar Idea #2.) Tie the interaction into your site as a whole
Make certain your personality shines in your 404 page as it does throughout the rest of your site.
My style is warm, friendly, funny and helpful. Ideally, you'll agree that EEEK! demonstrates this beautifully (and if not, please alert me in the comments below!).
What about you?
What's your style?
- Are you bold and brash?
- Warm and nuturing?
- Emo and exultant (and if you are, wow, I'd love to see that…)?
Whatever is the style you embrace, make certain your entrance of your own personal EEEK! doesn't detract from the overall user experience you want to convey.
Takeaway: "Jarring" is never good when you're trying to compel people to value your site. Blend everything together smoothly (kinda like:
Yep. Kinda like that. Oh, and if you don't get the insiders, joke, here's the original Old Spice Video…
And a library parody:
Not to mention, the ULTIMATE parody!
Sheer brilliance! But back to our topic at hand…
Staggering Idea #3.) Do NOT try to sell on your error page!
Yes, I know.
You *can* boldly inscribe your affiliate links on your error page. And actually, IF (and only IF, unless you're Chuck Norris, which in that case, you can do anything you want), your site is geared towards the "Make a bazillion blogs and swamp them with
cash-pumping mind-numbing sanity-devouring your affiliate links" ..that might make huge bleeploads of business sense too.
(hang on, pondering)….(although speaking from the voice of experience of the Rich Hermit who, at one time, was running 800+ of these sites, I'd recommend instead you place a bright snappy optin with a free niche-specific report so you can happily market to the visitors at a later date).
Instead of exploiting your customer's misfortune of not finding what they're looking for, *help* them find the blasted information instead.
It will leave them with some mighty good feelings about their customer experience with you. After all…how many sites have you seen that does that?
And how many sites have you seen that focuses in your niche?
Chuck Norris doesn't blend, btw.
By this time, you're probably afire with an insane desire to build an incredible empire out of your 404 error page that everyone admires.
Well! Here's some quick and easy ways for you to do just that.
Way #1.) If your site runs WordPress….
Ideally, your theme should have a file named:
Edit that to change your error message.
Some helpful tutorials for that include:
- How to Create a Custom Error 404 page for WordPress
- WordPress Error 404 Pages: Essential Tips and Tools
- 8 WordPress Plugins to make your 404 error pages user friendly & efficient
- Custom 404 Pages Aid Search Engine Optimization
Way #2) If your site runs Blogspot (ie, blogger.com)….
Here's one nifty useful article:
Definitely let me know if you have seen other ideas! It does seem that Google doesn't really want to you to customize your blogspot.
Way #3.) If your site is simply an html template
All you have to do is:
- Create an error html page
- Tell your site to use that page in your .htaccess
- Turn it on
ErrorDocument 404 /notfound.html
to your .htaccess file in your root.
'course, if you're not a geek, the following resources will be 'way more useful:
- How to Set Up A Custom 404 File Not Found Page
- Custom 404 Error
- How to create a custom 404 error page for your website using cPanel
This might help too:
Want some 404 inspiration?
There are beeyons and beeyons of fantastic 404 galleries out there! I highly recommend you zoom off and visit the following and await inspiration to whomp you with a 10 gallon hat:
- 20 Best 404 Error Page Design Examples To enhance the Usability of Your Site
- 21 Stunning examples of 404 Pages
- 37 Cool and Creative Examples of 404 Error Pages for your ‘Designs Inspiration’
- 40 Creative 404 Error Pages to Inspire You
- 50 Examples of Creative 404 – Page Not Found Pages
- 57 Most Creative 404 Pages in 2010
- 70 Unique Examples Of 404 Error Pages For Your Inspiratio
- 100 most funny and unusual 404 error pages
Making your error page work for you is a rather simple…yet extremely effective thing for you to do!
Take advantage of that today…your future customers will thank you for it tomorrow.
ps - If you have a great 404 page or have seen one recently, please do share below! I'd love to check them out.