What Makes a Good 404?


Simply changing the page from the server’s default error shows that you’ve made an effort. Here are some other things you can do to make it easy for people to get back on track.

In order from very basic to complex:


Allow people to go somewhere other than back.

Include links to important parts of the site, like the main page or site map. Don’t just tell them to correct their spelling. Use text links instead of just a graphic. It won’t occur to some people to click the graphic. For example, our site has a couple links back to main pages. This is the bare minimum. We like to think that we make up in personality what we lack in helpfulness.


Include a link to email the webmaster or a form to submit broken links.

People are more likely to use a form than send an email. After the form is submitted, you could redirect them back to the homepage of your site.

Include a search box to search the site.

Google offers free site search services. You have no excuse not to have a search box!

List the links on the site that are similar to what was entered, in order to guess what they were looking for.

You don’t have to do all of these things, but they all serve to make it easier for people to stay on your site. That’s what you want, right?

Take a look at this Alertbox article for some other good 404 tips. Check out the 404 error itself while you’re there, too; it gives visitors a lot of helpful information.