Your 404 error page is a landing page no one wants to land on. But if users will land there anyway, why not make the most of it and turn a negative experience into a positive one? You can even turn it into an opportunity! In this article I’ll show you how.

The Dreaded 404 Error Page – What is It?

When a visitor clicks on a link to a deleted or moved page they’ll see your 404 error page. They’ll also see it if they mistype a URL, or click on a broken link.

You know the feeling. You click an interesting looking link to a page that you want to read, and Bam! 404 ERROR – Page Not Found. The result – annoyance and poor customer experience.

The 404 experience, especially if it happens multiple times on the one site, can greatly impact the users perception of the business in question and reduce the chances that they will become a customer.

Some websites try to get around users ever seeing 404 pages by redirecting all 404 errors to their homepage. However, this often results in poor user experience as it doesn’t explain why a user has suddenly landed back on the homepage. Also, it’s not always relevant to the users’ journey.

Although 404 pages can be annoying for a user, you can use them as an opportunity to connect with your audience. A well designed 404 page can be the difference between someone bouncing from your website and a happy user. Here’s how.


What Should Your 404 Error Page Include to Improve Your Customer Experience?

1. An Error Message 

It’s important to tell users why they’re seeing a 404 page. For example “This page does not exist or may have moved”. Remember, not everyone knows what a 404-error means and they may be confused as to why they’re not seeing the content they wanted.

Starbucks does a great job of explaining to the customer exactly why they are on the error page and what the user can do to find the right page.


starbucks 404 error page
Starbucks 404 Error Page


2. Empathy

Make sure you’re empathetic – you know that this isn’t what they wanted to see. As well as making your page more personable, it’ll also show that you’re human by addressing the mistake. 

In keeping with their minimalist branding and clean look, the Airbnb page plays the empathy card with their image and provides some helpful links.


Airbnb 404 Error Page


3. A Search Bar and/or Navigation Links

Including a search bar is very important. A search bar offers the visitor a direct avenue to try and find what they are looking for straight away.

Tell users how they can continue their journey by including nav links. Instead of closing the window or navigating away from your site, the user can find helpful and potentially relevant resources on another page.

You can see on Amazon’s error page that the main focus for them is to get you to search. 


Amazon 404 Error Page


4. Strong branding & Personality

By using your brand’s personality and look and feel, you can help a user become invested in your brand, regardless of what page they’re on.

Many brands turn to humour on their 404 pages and, if your brand allows, it’s a good way to re-engage your users with your brand.  

Have a look at Lego’s error page.  Not only is Lego’s 404 page 100% on-brand, it’s also fun and easy to understand. It also gives the user lots of alternatives to continue their journey.


Lego 404 Error Page 

5. Design the Page to Look Like Your Site

Keep your users feeling like they’re still on your site and everything’s under control

How to Turn Your 404 Errors into Conversions?

Your 404 error page is also an opportunity to deliver conversions just like any other landing page.  Here are some things you can add to turn your error into an opportunity.

Link to Your Best Content

3 or 4 links to great content on your site should help guide lost visitors to something they find interesting. 

Call to action

Remember what we said about your 404 page practically serving as a landing page? So apply some landing page logic: add in a download or signup button to your mailing, or at the very least, a search box.

An Offer

The 404 page can allow you space to promote your key offer. You could even make clever use of this space by using an ad something like:

“We’re sorry you couldn’t find what you were looking for, to make it up to you, use this code XXXXX to receive FREE delivery on your next order.”

This encourages exploration of your products and services, increases conversion of users to customers.

Helping you Turn Lost Users into Loyal Customers

The aim of your 404 page design is to turn that potential negative user experience into a positive one. With a few simple updates you can turn a lost user into a customer.

Don’t forget to keep it simple.  Overwhelming the user with a 404 page jam packed with links to every nook and cranny of your site is a surefire way to cognitively overload an already frustrated user!

If you need help with designing a CX friendly & SEO optimised 404 pages then get in touch today and I’ll be happy to help.

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