Custom 404 Error Pages

Back when I was in college, I spent a lot of time on a site called Don’t ask me what it is, I’m not ever sure the site creators know what it’s about. They just decided to create some random characters and make hilarious flash cartoons out of them. Regardless of what the site is, one day I went to a page that didn’t exist on their server. But it wasn’t a normal 404 error page. I thought it was funny, and have actually shown people this 404 page.

But why fix it? What are the benefits to creating such a page? Well, first of all, custom 404’s look more professional. Second, your exit rate will certainly decrease. Consider how I found Homestarrunner’s page hilarious, and actually returned to the site, as opposed to leaving in frustration. And third, you have to consider the search engine bots. What can a robot do if it reaches a 404 page? It is a dead end. No where to go, no more site for it to index. That’s not good. We want sites to be as robot friendly as possible.

If you don’t know where to start in creating a custom 404 page, try the page. It provides more examples of good and comical 404 errors, and it also gives some tips and advice on creating your own.

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  1. Monique Anderson says

    Haha I found this to be really cool! I really enjoyed the “404” booming voice. I remember something similar happened to me, only the webmasters were updating the page. Instead of an error message, a little squirrel popped up with a guitar and told me to come back later (it was a music site). I thought it was a great way to say “we’re fixing stuff. hold tight.” Thanks for sharing!

  2. Glenn Erickson says

    Funny how most people never bother with this, yet setting up a custom 404 response is so easy.

    I have been happy with the one in the link above (just type some nonsense at the end of the URI).

  3. Charles Palma says

    That was cool. I wished more people and webmasters try this stuff. It is a good way to change the nature of sites into a web 2.0 one. :)

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