Showing a list of links to commonly used “hub” pages will help the visitor find other relevant content.
At least provide a link to the index page. If your site is a blog, consider adding links to an archive page and to most commonly used categories or tags.
I’ve seen some 404 pages show a tongue-in-cheek heading: “Oh no! You broke the site!”
Don’t do that. The visitor has done nothing wrong if they’ve clicked a link that you’ve placed on the page. It’s your fault if the URL is wrong. Don’t blame the visitor for your mistake, not even jokingly.
A kind-hearted visitor might want to notify you of a dead link to prevent others from ending up in the same situation. You should make this as easy as possible.
On my 404 page I show two contact links that allow sending an automatically generated message.
I’m using Twitter’s web intents and a
mailto: link to add the following information into the messages:
The link formats are below. The GET variables need to be URL encoded; Eric A. Meyer’s page is handy for that.
If you’re dynamically generating the 404 page, you can just encode and insert the URL into the links that way.
If you’re not using any other Twitter features on the page, you can add the
async attribute on that Twitter’s script tag to load it asynchronously. You can leave the tag out if you don’t want the link to open a popup.
That’s it, now your visitors can easily notify you of dead links without having to type a single word.
Do you have more tips for improving error pages? Leave a comment below!