How to Create a Great Custom 404 Page

Bumping into a page that has a broken link is not something anyone really wants or needs, but it nevertheless keeps on happening on a daily basis. It has happened to just about every Internet user out there – and it might happen to your website’s visitors as well. This is why every website, including your own WordPress website, has a 404 Page Not Found error page. You’ve seen your share of these pages; they are most commonly a mundane, sterile white page with black letters on it. But as a WP website user, you might want something more creative and interesting to deliver to your site’s visitors. Creating a great custom 404 page is something that can and probably should be done – it may keep users engaged for a bit longer, instead of making them take a hard U-turn and run away.

an error sign coming out of a laptop screen
Every website, including your own WordPress website, should have a 404 Page Not Found error page.

404 is off-putting, but it happens – and you ought to think in advance

Clicking on a certain link and getting a “404 Page Not Found” message means that the page request was a successful one, however, the server failed to find the particular page. And the reasons for this to happen are plentiful. This 404 message will show up if the page was removed – which is a sort of a typical thing to happen to an outdated page which has been removed but still has links leading to it from various other websites. Other causes for a 404 Page Error can be the relocation of the page to a new domain name, firewalls, content filters, and content blocking of other kinds. It is normal and it is more or less common. So what can you, as a website owner, do to make this 404 experience less frustrating for your website’s user? The answer lies in creating a custom 404 page.

Internet users are not known for their patience. Running into a humdrum, irritating 404 page will cause them to instantly make a run for it. What you can do is use your options and your creativity and make a 404 page that will entertain and charm your website’s visitors, even for a little while.

Is having a custom 404 page really necessary?

There’s a pretty straightforward answer here, and it is, of course – no, it’s not necessary. However, it is important.

  • Having a custom 404 page lets people know that they are in fact on the right website, but the particular page does not exist. Don’t let your visitors believe that your entire website is non-existent!
  • Your custom 404 page can also be a unique kind of your site’s landing page – it can certainly help you get a hold of all those people who end up falling through the website cracks.
  • As opposed to a generic 404 page, a custom one can increase your branding and carry the overall atmosphere of your site. And, of course, the regular 404 content can be replaced and enriched with something like a site search. This will definitely help the users stay engaged by offering them a chance to actually find the page they were trying to get to in the first place.
  • Why not try and utilize the related posts plugin? This will generate links to other content on your site. You can, in fact, convert users who bumped into your broken link into visitors who will stick around and read some other pieces of content.
a 404 error screen
There are three ways you can create a custom 404 page for your WP website.

There are three ways you can create a custom 404 page

  • You can edit your existing 404 error page.
  • If your WP theme doesn’t have a 404 error page – you can add a custom one.
  • And of course – you can use one of 404 plugins WordPress can offer for this purpose.

Edit your WP theme’s 404 error page

Once you open your theme editor from the Admin dashboard, you’ll be able to check whether your WP theme has a custom 404 page. You should look for a file named 404.php. Click on it and then you can edit the existing file in the WP dashboard. You can even add some additional content, along with some images or links.

Creating a WordPress 404 page

If there isn’t a 404.php file included in your theme, you have two ways of creating it. You can actually copy the 404.php from some other theme into your current theme’s directory and then edit the page. Alternatively, you may copy index.php of your theme to a file named 404.php in your current WP theme.

colorful 404 numbers
Try using one of the WP plugins to create a custom 404 error page.

As you might have expected – WordPress has some useful plugins to help you out

Surely, not all of us are WordPress experts who know every secret of this CMS. But as you probably know already, there is a way to make almost every aspect of your WP website better by using a suitable plugin. And creating a custom 404 page is no exception from this rule. These plugins can give you a hand when creating a 404 error page:

Custom 404 Pro

Good news – this plugin is free! It will allow you to designate practically any page you make as your own 404 error page. Moreover, you will be able to get a 404 report and track down as many of these errors as possible. 

404Page

This particular plugin will allow you to make your website’s 404 error page just as you would create any other WordPress post. All you need to do is head to  Appearance – 404 Error Page and make this page into your 404 error page. 404Page plugin is used by more than 70,000 WordPress websites use this plugin, and along with its 5-star ratings – it serves as a testament to it being an excellent choice.

SeedProd

By using SeedProd, you can set up a great custom 404 page for your WP website. The good news is – you can entirely customize your 404 error page using this plugin. Although there is a basic, free version of it, by using a pro version you can get access to additional features.

 

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