While browsing a website this week, I clicked a link that seemed interesting. However, the site had changed file structure since the link was created, and the page was no longer valid. So, up popped their "Page Not Found (404 Error)" page.
Now, not only was I disappointed that I couldn't see what I clicked on, but now I was also a little insulted and put-off.
That's the error page above. The idiot wearing the short-sleeved, orange, Hawaiian shirt at the Black Tie event is supposed to be me. The site visitor.
"Ever feel like you're in the wrong place?" states the caption.
Wow! An interesting way to treat a guest to your site. I wasn't digging around their bathroom's medicine cabinet and got busted for snooping. I clicked on one of the main links on their site! Why are they making me feel like I did something wrong?
I know this sounds like a bit of a rant ... But, the lesson is, the way your company handles your websites error page can say a lot about your company.
Some take time to make the error page fun, trying to make the best of the situation. After all, it's a bummer for the visitor when something goes wrong, and it means something is broken with the site.
When trying to make a site as sticky as possible and something is broken or confusing, anything less than "Oh my gosh, so sorry ... How can we help you find what you were looking for?" is not enough.
How are you supporting your web visitors when they encounter an error?
Call To Action
- Check out your site's error page. No, you really should. In fact, why not open another browser window right now and check it out?
- If you aren't sure what your error page looks like, enter the URL for your site and then put some junk characters after it. For example: www.YourSiteNameHere.com/icuraqtinvu
I'll bet you don't have a page with that title, and your error page will be revealed to you.
- What does your Error Page say? Is if generic? Is it fun?
- Is is branded? Is it brand appropriate?
- Did you simply leave it up to the person who designed your site to create the page?
- Does it have search tools or ways to help your visitor get back on track?
- Check out what others have done on their error pages. See clever and helpful error page collections here and here, and here.
- By all means, while you may have fun with visitors to lighten up the fact your site is broken, don't berate them.