Good Web Design: Create A Custom 404 Error Page

Written by Richard Lowe

As you know if you've spent any time at all surfingrepparttar web, sometimes you will seerepparttar 134651 dreaded 404 error condition. This often occurs because you've entered an incorrect link (perhaps added a ".html" instead of ".htm" atrepparttar 134652 end ofrepparttar 134653 file) or perhaps because a site has been updated recently and some links were broken.

Virtually all web sites (especially free sites) have some generic 404 error page displayed when this occurs. This error pages is either (a) completely unhelpful to a visitor or more likely (b) is very useful advertising for a web host but completely useless for helping your users navigate your site.

One excellent reason for choosing a paid host over a free host is that you can generally modifyrepparttar 134654 .htaccess file to provide a custom 404 error page. (This is an important feature to demand from a paid host - if they don't let you use this feature, find another host. This is also an excellent reason to choose a host which runsrepparttar 134655 Apache server software over other brands. For example, Microsoft's Internet Information Server, IIS for short, does not allow for this capability).

So let's say you create a 404 error page. What do you do with it? It's simple - you help your visitors get back to looking around your site.

Tell them what happened - An error occurred, specifically a page was requested and not found.

Make sure they understand they are still on your site - Sometimes this is not clear, so be sure you include your logo and other identifications. In fact,repparttar 134656 standard 404 error code often means you will lose that visitor forever because he will immediately assumerepparttar 134657 site is abandoned.

Give them some reasons whyrepparttar 134658 error occurred - Most people do not know what "404 error" means. Be sure and give your visitors some tips as to what might have gone wrong. Perhaps they misspelledrepparttar 134659 URL or a link was bad?

Help them get back to surfing your site - Give them plenty of ways to navigate back into your site. Ideally, include your standard navigation menu and perhaps even a search option.

Inject a little humor - A joke or funny picture can help lighten uprepparttar 134660 mood. Remember, you are presenting an error - you want to get them to smile so they perhaps continue surfing.

Be sure your page is over 1,024 bytes in size - Some browsers will not display error pages that are smaller than this.

The most important thing to remember is that an error message is stressful to your visitors. These immediately giverepparttar 134661 impression that your site is poorly maintained or perhaps even has been abandoned. You only have a few seconds afterrepparttar 134662 error occurs to get people back to surfing your site, so you had better use that time wisely.

Pass the Mystery Meat: Learning from "Web Pages that Suck"

Written by Stefene Russell

Though I learned much at Shakespeare's knee,repparttar two years I worked forrepparttar 134650 undergraduate literary magazine atrepparttar 134651 University of Utah were almost as valuable. Every night, I took home fat manila folders full of poetry and fiction that were horribly instructive in their badness. Example: a parody of "Little Women," swapping outrepparttar 134652 main characters for Smurfs.

Last week, we talked about positive web page role models. However, knowing what NOT to do is just as effective. So this week our different pedagogical model is called "Learn From Web Pages that Suck."

A wise-looking fellow, Vincent Flanders, has kindly furnishedrepparttar 134653 internet community with "Where you learn good Web design by looking at bad Web design." Like Sightings, Flanders offers frequent updates to his site-though his is called "The Daily Sucker," which features live examples of new ways to do bad things. Today's sucker is What is so offensive about this site? I can tell you what bothers me: frames; cramped-up, busy text sure to induce a seizure; and no clear explanation as to what they actually do. Flanders notes that there's no "home" button onrepparttar 134654 pages (huge mistake). His overall assessment is that "the above site uses too many frames in a bad way but disguisesrepparttar 134655 fact by its professional look."

Today must be a good day for bad sites, because he has a second sucker up, a government page that is all too elf-explanatory in its suckness:

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