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Creating a More Useful 404 Error Page

Your 404 error page is important for a lot of reasons. In fact, Google pays close attention to the HTTP status codes (that’s what 404 is: a status code from the browser) and recommends you create a custom 404 error page. If a visitor hits a 404 error page on your site, you already have a problem—whatever they were looking for isn’t there anymore, and they’re likely to look elsewhere! This is your chance to reel them back in.
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Whoops! Page Not Found

Don’t fret, you didn’t do anything wrong. It appears that the page you are looking for does not exist or has been moved elsewhere. If you keep ending up here, please head back to our homepage or try the search form below.
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By default, Headway displays the above message and the search bar on the 404 error page in the content block. We also take care of ensuring that your browser receives the proper 404 HTTP status code. These are great best practices, but you can add more functionality and personality to your 404 error page.

Update the Layout

headway-docs-layout-404
Your 404 page doesn’t need to look like the rest of your interior pages. In fact, it probably shouldn’t—you’re missing opportunities! Add a sidebar dedicated to the 404 page with widgets that display the most popular articles, the latest articles, and a listing of topics on your site by category.

Catch the Bad Link

You may also consider adding a form plugin—we recommend Gravity Forms—to let your visitors submit the URL as “broken” and an optional message to you. If you are using Gravity Forms, a hidden field set to pre-populate to the current URL and an email field and paragraph
field, both optional, for visitors to drop a quick message is all you need. Let your visitors know with a fun heading and quick intro that they can report the broken link quickly to you—and you may even get a chance to follow up with your visitors to help them find the specific information they needed.

Use Graphics for Humor or Extra Visual Punch

Adding a funny graphic or illustration to poke fun at yourself (a la Techcrunch) or just use graphics to give the page a little more visual interest & keep your visitors looking for a moment past the “404 Error”
title. Ensnare them with your creative photo choice! From there, encourage them to go back to your homepage or search for their information at your site, instead of bouncing away!

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