Have you ever clicked on a link and landed on a page that says something like “404 Not Found” or “The requested URL was not found on this server”? If so, you have encountered a 404 error page, which is the server’s response to a page that does not exist.
A 404 error page can be frustrating for users, especially if they are looking for something specific on your website. It can also hurt your website’s performance, as users may leave your site and search for something else. That’s why it’s important to create a custom 404 page for your website, which can improve the user experience and keep them on your site.
In this blog post, we will show you how to create a custom 404 page for your website using different methods and tools. We will also share some tips and best practices for designing a user-friendly and effective custom 404 page.
What is a Custom 404 Page?
A custom 404 page is a page that you design and create for your website, which replaces the default server error page that users see when they request a page that does not exist. A custom 404 page can have any content and design that you want, as long as it follows some basic guidelines.
A custom 404 page should:
- Explain what happened and why the user reached the error page
- Apologize for the inconvenience and show empathy
- Provide helpful links or suggestions to help the user find what they are looking for
- Include a search box or a navigation menu to allow the user to explore your site
- Match the look and feel of your website and brand
- Have analytics tracking tags to measure its performance
Here is an example of a custom 404 page from eFax, which follows these guidelines:
As you can see, this custom 404 page is better than a default server error page because it:
- Explains the error and gives users options to get back on track
- Apologizes for the error and shows a friendly tone
- Provides internal site search and links to common pages
- Matches the design and style of the website
- Has analytics tracking tags (not visible in the screenshot)
How to Create a Custom 404 Page for Your Website
There are different methods and tools that you can use to create a custom 404 page for your website, depending on how your website is built and hosted. Here are some of the most common ones:
Using .htaccess File
If your website is hosted on an Apache server, you can use a .htaccess file to create a custom 404 page. A .htaccess file is a configuration file that allows you to modify the behavior of your server. You can use it to tell the server what file to display when a 404 error occurs.
To create a custom 404 page using .htaccess file, you need to:
- Create or modify a .htaccess file in the root directory of your website
- Create or upload a custom 404 page in HTML format to your website
- Edit the .htaccess file and add the following line:
ErrorDocument 404 /not-found-page.html
/not-found-page.html is the full path to your custom 404 page
For example, if your custom 404 page is located at
https://www.example.com/404.html, then you need to write:
ErrorDocument 404 /404.html
You can learn more about how to create or modify a .htaccess file here.
Using Website Builders
If your website is built using a website builder like Squarespace or Weebly, then you can use their built-in features to create a custom 404 page. Most website builders have a 404 error page setting that allows you to upload an image and add buttons or links to your custom 404 page.
To create a custom 404 page using a website builder, you need to:
- Log in to your website builder account and access the editor
- Navigate to the pages section and add a new page
- Name your new page “error404” or something similar
- Design your custom 404 page using the editor tools
- Save and publish your changes
For example, here are the steps to create a custom 404 page using Editor X, which is a website builder by Wix:
If your website is powered by WordPress, then you can use plugins or themes to create a custom 404 page. WordPress plugins are extensions that add functionality to your website, while WordPress themes are templates that define the appearance of your website.
To create a custom 404 page using WordPress plugins, you need to:
- Log in to your WordPress dashboard and go to the plugins section
- Search for and install a plugin that allows you to create a custom 404 page, such as 404page or Custom 404 Pro
- Activate the plugin and follow its instructions to create and customize your custom 404 page
To create a custom 404 page using WordPress themes, you need to:
- Log in to your WordPress dashboard and go to the themes section
- Search for and install a theme that has a custom 404 page option, such as Divi or Astra
- Activate the theme and follow its instructions to create and customize your custom 404 page
You can learn more about how to create a custom 404 page using WordPress plugins here and using WordPress themes [here].
Tips and Best Practices for Creating a Custom 404 Page
Creating a custom 404 page is not enough. You also need to make sure that it is user-friendly and effective. Here are some tips and best practices that you should follow when creating a custom 404 page for your website:
- Keep it simple and clear. Don’t use technical jargon or complex language that may confuse users. Use plain and simple language that explains what happened and what users can do next.
- Be creative and humorous. Don’t make users feel bad or frustrated about the error. Use creativity and humor to lighten up the mood and make users smile. For example, you can use funny images, animations, or jokes to entertain users.
- Be consistent and on-brand. Don’t make your custom 404 page look like it belongs to another website. Use the same colors, fonts, logos, and style that match your website and brand identity. This will help users recognize your website and trust you.
- Provide useful links and suggestions. Don’t leave users hanging or clueless about what to do next. Provide links or suggestions that can help users find what they are looking for or discover something new on your website. For example, you can link to your homepage, blog, products, services, contact page, or social media accounts.
- Include a search box or a navigation menu. Don’t make users go back or type another URL to continue browsing your website. Include a search box or a navigation menu that allows users to search for or access any page on your website easily.
- Track and analyze your custom 404 page performance. Don’t ignore or forget about your custom 404 page after creating it. Track and analyze its performance using analytics tools, such as Google Analytics or Bing Webmaster Tools. This will help you measure how many users see your custom 404 page, how long they stay on it, what actions they take on it, and how it affects your website’s bounce rate, conversion rate, and user satisfaction.
A custom 404 page is an essential part of any website, as it can improve the user experience and keep users on your site when they encounter a page that does not exist. Creating a custom 404 page is not difficult, as there are different methods and tools that you can use depending on how your website is built and hosted.
However, creating a custom 404 page is not enough. You also need to follow some tips and best practices to make sure that your custom 404 page is user-friendly and effective. By doing so, you can turn a negative situation into a positive one and increase your website’s performance.
We hope this blog post has helped you learn how to create a custom 404 page for your website. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share them below.
This is the end of my response. I hope you find it helpful.