Website tip: user-friendly pages instead of scary errors

Get Results / Really? Really!? / Tips & Tools / Web Design

When someone tries to get to a page on your website that doesn’t exist, do NOT show them some “critical error” page. It looks really unprofessional and is a quick way to lose website visitors.

404 Page Not Found

One of the local web designers in town actually shows the following error code when you try to get to a page on their website that doesn’t exist (and I actually got to it by clicking a clearly outdated link on their Facebook page – another big no-no).

Critical error page - really, web designer, really!?

Here’s what we show our website visitors when they try to get to a page that doesn’t exist:

Page not found - Wilson Media Consulting

As you can, we’ve included the basics:

  • The situation: “Page not found” to clearly state what’s happening
  • An apology: It’s possible the mistake is ours, and we want our customers to know that we take responsibility
  • A search box: It’s important to give website visitors a chance to actually find what they were looking for via a simple search box

So what does your “Page not found” error page (technically a 404 page) look like? Out of curiosity, I visited a couple sites this web company worked on to see if this problem was potentially hurting their clients as well. Here’s a couple I found:

Website 1: Server Error: 404 – File or directory not found (kind of scary looking)

404 Server Error

Same website with a “.aspx” extention: DotNetNuke Error: an error has occurred.

Page not here - scary error page

Website Tip: Get with the times and start displaying a custom, user-friendly error message

If your potential customers see scary error messages like the ones above, they’re going to high-tail it out of there. Make this small update on your website to start improving your online results.