Having worked on a number of web projects over the years, I still receive great examples of 404 page designs sent to me by my former team members.
Why? A well designed 404 page can be an opportunity to build your brand when something goes wrong for your user and I attempt to bring them in all web projects I work on.
If you're not a webmaster, you may not know what a 404 is, although you will certainly have seen them! Technically speaking Wikipedia describe it as 'The 404 or Not Found error message is a HTTP standard response code indicating that the client was able to communicate with the server, but the server could not find what was requested.'
Your users will describe it, to quote a great TED talk by Renny Gleeson as 'a slap in the face, …..you feel like you have fallen through the cracks'
404 pages can be overlooked on a web build, redesign, or general web updates and this is an opportunity missed if your company’s page is, well, annoying and not helpful to the end user. Yes you may never have out-dated pages, and yes someone may just have typed the link incorrectly, or they may have been sent the wrong link.
Look at your own company websites 404 page could you be providing a better user experience and helping your users?
Most importantly build a process and reports to review your 404s regularly in your analytics or using Google Webmaster Tools to minimise the number of 404s. But some will be inevitable, so make sure they are not just a black on white "Not found" road block.
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