The lifespan of hyperlinks realistically is not beyond 7 years. That is not to say that after a span of 7 years they are going to expire, but that they may give you an error – an error we are all too familiar with, error 404.
Reasonably, you can expect to lose about a quarter of all your links in seven years, which is a lot! If you choose to leave it to the default design of the error page, then good luck getting conversions because, frankly, well it sucks! It can be too technical and repelling.
How Important Is 404 Conversion?
Given that you’d lose about a quarter of all your pages in a period of 7 years, or that you are likely to lose that amount, that is about 250 pages for every thousand pages! What is the worst part about the error? Your website is most likely to bounce.
What Is Bouncing? Can I Avoid It?
If a user visits some page of your website and leaves without exploring it more is when you have your website “bounced”. It is very important as it is a major component of your Alexa ranking determination.
So, what should you do?
Use Friendly Language
Try to use anything that is not too technical, something that everyone can understand. It is even better to use some catchphrases, something witty like “whoopsies daisy, the page is not working”. Besides, it is only best to apologize for the error.
Providing a Solution
The best thing to do is provide a solution to the error, which means that it is unseemly to not include some of the related articles from your archive and post it in the error 404 page. Something that reads – “Sorry, the page could not be found. Were you looking for any of these” is much better than “Sorry for the inconvenience”.
Explaining the Error
The error can be explained in a number of ways, like – the URL is broken, content has been removed, the hyperlink is truncated, the link is broken, content has been removed, etc. If you can get the user to provide feedback for the same, then it is just the icing on the cake you need.
Maintaining Brand Familiarity
It is always a good choice to include your brand logo on the error page, and it is better if you can be creative about it. If in case the brand logo doesn’t fit well with the rest of the page, something about the niche of your website can be put up.
Showcasing Your Contact Info
The email id, contact number or any form of business identification can also be put up on the page, that is if there aren’t better to include in the page. This can also be a great way to generate leads.
DO Not Clutter
While it is best to not keep the page blank, it can also work against you if you go the other way around. It is best to keep the page easily readable and not clutter it too much with information. Therefore, you must choose the most important of things to be put up on the error page.
Including a Search Bar
It can be a great way to keep the website from bouncing and it doesn’t even take that much space! The tactic is employed especially by Github. Try it.
Quick Links to Social Media
Given that your website has its Facebook and Linkedin pages, it is best to include them in the 404 page because social media certainly is a golden repository of all your work on the website. This is especially profitable for small businesses.
Now that the world is much more global, translating the page in several languages can be a good choice for customers. The same a thing can be applied to your error 404 page. Offer translations in several popular languages.
Offering Numerous Routes
The best example in point is that of Mozilla. It has many alternatives to choose from to browse out of the failure. One must ensure that it must not get too cluttered in the process. The point is to make the page much more functional and offer the visitor a unique experience.
Pixar makes use of animation and cartoons to tickle your funny bone and Starbucks has its coffee stains smeared all over the page. It is often important to include something that screams your business, keeps the visitor interested and offers a good way out of the error. Another good example can be that of 9Gag, it makes use of some basic headlines to generate leads.
The best strategy would be to include something that resonates with the pop culture – a gif, a video, or even a meme! Blue Egg has made use of humor to design quite a memorable page with a video of a goat. Maybe you can use a cat! Another example that uses the basics of the industry is that of Lego – it makes use of different characters, each with a different expression.
If there isn’t anything that is symptomatic of your industry, there are some other ways – make use of some popular sitcoms and their characters. One example is that of Simpsons, try to use some dialogue that can stay with the visitor, once they find their way to the error page.
Of course, there are other ways – Blue Fountain made use of Pacman game to create a custom page.
The importance of having a custom error page cannot be stressed enough. The bounce rates are very consequential and need to be lowered as much as possible. The error page can actually be a great lead for conversion even when the page fails but without the right design, your chances are slim.
Even behemoths like Apple handle about a drop rate of 4–5 percent of all pages. If it can happen to them, it can certainly happen to you.