Jane Reyes
Jane Reyes 11 July 2017
Categories Technology

Best Practices For Building 404 Pages With Killer UX Design

No one likes 404 page! A visitor could find himself on a 404 page for a couple of reasons such as a mistyped address, bad link appearing from somewhere else, deleted page or content moved somewhere else and so more. Interestingly enough, these annoying pages can delight you to the point you don’t mind the dead link.

Let’s find out how to prevent a 404 error page from being a total nightmare?

404 pages can transform from sources of frustration to opportunities for increasing conversions and branding. With the help of a reliable UX design company and a little human empathy, one can go a long way towards improving a 404-page design. The following post incorporates a few error page best practices that could make 404 pages more user-friendly.

Turn Error Into UX Opportunity

A standard looking 404 page leaves only one option for the visitor, i.e. to go back where they came from. Ultimate downer! According to the principles of gamification, a user wants to feel like they are progressing. By designing 404 pages allows a user to progress towards other parts of your site, especially the home or feature pages. This way you have got a lot more chance of making them stay on sight and nudging them in the right direction.

In addition to this, don’t just provide them links. Add a search box to the page in order to provide a sense of control over their experience and facilitate task success. For example, Designer Steve Lambert combines a search box 404 with a toe-curlingly good video to create a fun and functional 404 user experience.

Explain, Do Not Make Them Land On An Error Message

Nothing seems to be more frustrating than landing on an error message that leads to confusion. For instance, see the image below: 


This is absolutely ridiculous and boring! Most of the UX design companies believe that a good 404 message should concisely explain what went wrong in simple language and what needs to be done next. Just like the image below:


Less Clutter Results In Higher User Success Rate

A few years back, many sites used to fall into the trap of “Panic”! The user got a 404! Overwhelming users with 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. Best thing to do is design a 404 page with a handful of key links which includes a link to the home page as an easy get-out for users who aren’t sure what they are looking for yet. Other options such as a blog, product features or about us are worth considering.


404 As Branding Opportunities

There are users for whom a 404 page might be the very first interaction they have with the brand. By using basic UX designing practices such as ensuring that the aesthetics of the page fit with the rest of the site, microcopy mirrors the tone, create icons and visuals coherent with other sites or products, etc.   

Always keep this in mind, functionality has to come before form in a 404 page.

Adding Little Humor Always Works

Like I said before, a 404 page can be an opportunity to convert user frustration into satisfaction. But here instead of using navigation, a little humor can work wonders. The design releases energy in such a way creating surprise, delight or simply a response that satisfies a UX designer’s desire to engage, manipulate and shape their experience.

In A Nutshell

The aforementioned minute detailing’s, otherwise known as microinteractions can successfully build a connection between the user and the website. In fact,  UX designers across the globe believe that microinteractions have the magical potential to keep hold on their end users through emotional and human connection.

Customize your 404 page in such a way that it includes:

  • A clear notification that the page cannot be found
  • Consistent header and footer appearing from the main site
  • Links that may send users down an alternative path or to the home page
  • A search bar to help users find something specific
  • Ensure that the page is set up so that it returns an actual error from the web server
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