A 404 error or "Page not found" is the page that appears when a visitor attempts to view a page that doesn't exist. These 404 errors may pop up when using a broken link, typing a link incorrectly or when a page was removed from your website.
Now, typically 404 pages are a small inconvenience and at most a little annoying. But, what if you could reinforce your brand, offer helpful resources to your audience or even promote your business?
In this blog, I want to share with you why you should customize your 404 page, how you can easily set one up in Squarespace and provide you with a few ideas for what to include. Let's get started!
Reasons to Customize a 404 Error Page in Squarespace
There are three main reasons I suggest all business owners create a custom 404 Error page. First, to reinforce your brand. As a brand designer I don't think anything is more important than a well-rounded brand. Second, reengage a frustrated user. Without a custom 404 Error page, your users are likely to just leave your website. With a custom 404 Error page, they are more likely to stay. Lastly, increasing your conversions. If someone is more likely to stay on your website, they are more likely to click your links. Let's take a deeper look!
Reinforce brand visuals
Chances are you've run into your fair share of 404 Error pages. Most 404 Error Pages look like the example below. Often, they are ugly, unhelpful and look nothing like the website you were just enjoying.
But, if you customize your 404 Error Page you can reinforce your brand visuals. Although running into a 404 Error page is never fun, you can make it more enjoyable for the user and give them another reason to enjoy interacting with your brand.
Reengage a frustrated user
Depending on how the 404 Error occurred, you may have a frustrated user on your hands. Especially if a broken link on your website is what caused it. If you customize the 404 Error page you can offer helpful resources, apologize or even crack a few jokes. A little appreciation shown for your users can go a long way in easing frustration.
Lastly, a customized 404 Error page can increase conversions. Whether you want to highlight your blog, an opt-in or a opening in your business.. a 404 Error page is a great piece of real estate. Either the user is stuck on that page and decides to leave your site altogether or they use the helpful links that you've provided to continue navigating your website.
Customizing Your 404 Error Page In Squarespace
Luckily, Squarespace makes it really simple to customize your 404 Error page. In this section, I'm going to walk you through each step so you can easily create one for yourself.
Open the back-end of your Squarespace website. Navigate to Pages and create a new Not Linked page. Design your new 404 Error page and Save it. In the next section, we'll talk about what to include in your 404 Error page.
Navigate to Settings > Advanced. At the top of the Advanced menu you should see 404 Error / Page Not Found, select this.
Use the drop down feature to select your newly customized 404 page. That's it!
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What to include in your 404 Error Page
Finally, let's get to creating these custom 404 Error pages! In this section, I'm going to discuss the three things I believe every 404 Error page should include. Plus, I'll show you a few examples that I really love.
Highlight Brand Culture
Your 404 Error page is one of the easiest ways to highlight your brand culture. You can make fun of yourself or your staff, use approachable and on-brand language or apologize for the inconvenience and help the user get back on track.
One of my favorite 404 Error page's is perfectly on brand is from Airbnb. They use a short GIF, use the link to view it, of a young girl dropping her ice cream on the floor, similarly to how they dropped the ball on this broken link.
Provide Helpful Resources + Search Features
Any 404 Error Page should also provide helpful resource links and/or a search feature. This not only increases the likelihood of user remaining on your website. It also increases the likelihood that they won't become frustrated by the error.
In the example below, Mailchimp is able to offer a search feature that is clearly visible and they offer multiple links at the bottom of the page as helpful resources to assist in navigating to the preferred link.
Assist Users in Contacting You
Lastly, your 404 Error page should provide people the opportunity to reach out to you. Often, a 404 Error page occurs from a broken link that we are unaware of. In this instance, your audience may want to contact you to inform you of the issue.
Or, your website may just primarily be used as a contact resource for your audience, especially for brick-and-mortar based business's. In this example, Repair Pal does an excellent job of offering users multiple ways to get in touch.
Now that you've seen a few example of how to set-up a 404 Error page, instructions on how to easily accomplish this in Squarespace and a deeper understanding of the value of a custom 404 Error page. I'd love for your to take a look at my 404 Error page and tell me what you think!
Does your website use a custom 404 Error page? Share a link of it in the comments below!