State the Problem Clearly
The success of a 404 error page lies in its ability to retain visitors. It is also quite obvious that visitors tend to stay on only if you weave in clarity in your designs. State the reasons for the error clearly and with a decent enough explanation which helps your visitors realize where they went wrong. They may have mistyped the URL address or the URL may itself have been moved to another location. No matter what, make sure that your visitors are given a proper reason for having to face this ordeal. Add a bit of humour to make the wait a tad bit more enjoyable. You can become creative and add a funny video or an animation to make things sound all nice and happy. The idea is simply to keep your customers happy at the end of the day, even if they have driven up against a 404 error page.
Offer your Apologies
No matter how plausible your reasons maybe, your users are undoubtedly irked. Coming up with a 404 error page when they are trying to look for some really important information can cause a lot of angst and ill-will against the designer. A humble apology on your part can save the day. It just takes the five letter word “Sorry” to heal the disappointment and make way for the repairing process to commence.
Tool up the Situation
You need to ‘tool up’ your 404 error page so that you keep getting interested visitors on its portals. In other words, introduce interesting tools that will help to direct visitors to make their stay on the page worthwhile. Some of the interesting and useful online tools that you could introduce are as follows:
- Contact Information – Make sure your users know where and how to access you. Provide your complete details. You could also provide a form which will help you follow the browsing trends of your visitors through information like, the page they visited, the link that led them to you and so on.
- Search box – A visit to a 404 error page indicates that your customers are willing to give you a second chance to help them navigate to the right track. Give them a well-designed search box that will guide them to the right link.
- List of other categories – It is obvious that visitors who have landed on your 404 error page have been unable to locate the specific category they are searching for. However, will you stop at that and allow them to think that you are all about that and nothing else? Obviously not. So it is always a good idea to provide a list of other relevant categories on the 404 error page so that visitors can click on any one of their choices and therefore stay on for a bit longer than they usually would have.