I hate seeing these:
It’s a waste. You put all that work into creating a great site. Someone makes a mistake like mis-typing a page name, or they click a bad link on someone else's site, and you drive them away with the internet equivalent of a wagging finger.
By the way, this is a competitor’s site: A marketing agency that claims to offer internet marketing. Why am I not a multi-millionaire?
You can have a much friendlier ‘page not found’ page - also known as a 404 error page:
It’s easy: If you can create a plain, static HTML web page, you can create a 404 error page. You may have to get your web host to do a little setup work, but that’s it.
I’m going to walk you through it.
Step 1: Create Your Page
- Open your favorite HTML or web page editor.
- Get HTML code for your site. This is easy. Open your site in a web browser and go to a simple page (I usually use ‘about us’ or something similar). Click ‘view’ and then ‘source’. Cut-and-paste that code into your editor. Voila - you have your page layout.
- Edit the page so it follows the three principles of a good 404 error page (see below).
- Save the page as something obvious, like 404.html.
Any 404 page should have 3 basic elements:
- A clear statement that the visitor is in the wrong place;
- Advice to help them get back on track;
- An option for getting in touch with the website owner.
You’re done with step one. Pat yourself on the back. You’ve just done something that most of the web development world apparently doesn’t understand.
Step 2: Put the Page On Your Website
Connect to your website using whatever tool you normally do. It might be an FTP client, or the ‘file manager’ that’s built into your web hosting control panel.
Upload 404.html to the server.
Navigate to http://www.yoursite.com/404.html to make sure the page looks OK.
On to step 3...
Step 3: Setting Up Your Server To Point At Your 404 Page
This is where most folks turn pale and start to sweat. Chances are some developer or grumpy web hosting company support person has told you this part’s really, really, really difficult. I mean, they don’t know how to do it, so it must be difficult, right?
I'm going to show you how it’s done on Microsoft’s Internet Information Server (in about 10 steps, but they’re just point-and-click) and on Apache (in 3 steps, but you have to know how to type).
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