Most 404 pages are terrible. If you are reading this, chances are yours is terrible too.
I'm going to lay this down to you short and simple: If you want a website that works, you need to make some simple changes to grease the bearings. One simple way to do that is to improve your 404 or “Page Not Found" part of your site.
In case you didn't know: a 404 page is a page of any website that comes up when a user types in or tries to go to a link that isn't there. That means when someone types in www.yoursite.com/wordd when they actually want to go to www.yoursite.com/word they are going to come to your 404 page. Or, very often, if someone links to your site and you change your links around or remove the page they linked to, you are going to have a user come up with a 404 page.
So there are three steps to making your 404 page make you money and keep your visitors happy.
Step 1. Tell Users they are lost.
Make it obvious that they are not just missing something- let them know they are lost so they don't get confused and frustrated and leave. On my 404 page, it simply says: “Whoops, this page is not found!"
Step 2. Lead Users Through Fixing the Problem.
Give the user a few choices. Tell them to type in the address again if they typed it in the first place. Or, better yet, give them a search bar right there they can use. Or, give them your email address and let them email you to tell you what they were looking for.
Step 3. Give Users a Sitemap Right There.
So maybe they are lost beyond all recollection. Give them something else to look at or let them find the post they really wanted from your sitemap.
Do these 3 Steps and you are building your way to a phenomenal website. Better yet, build this functionality into every site you ever make and never worry about it again.
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Great internet marketers know that the line between success and failure can be very thin. Let the cumulative research of over 5 years of Usability Studies, Information Architechture, Eye Monitoring, Click-Thru Studies, and Academic Internet User Research work for you.
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