Create a Personalized “File Not Found” Page

If you’re changing your Web site around and are afraid people will get lost if you move pages, create a user-friendly page to redirect people.

There is usually a single page that is the default for all of your “file not found” messages on your Web site. For mine, it is “404.shtml” (for “Error 404: File Not Found). I honestly have no idea if it’s the same for every site.

When someone clicks on a link to my site that is no longer there or has been moved, they get a friendly message that looks like this:

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Now, isn’t that better than someone getting a message from your service provider?

Simply find the file on your site and replace it with a more personal greeting.

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7 comments to Create a Personalized “File Not Found” Page

  • I did this very thing a couple of years ago and immediately saw an increase in the number of page views by visitors who came via a page no longer on my site. These people would have been lost to me otherwise. It’s worked wonderfully, and I highly recommend this tactic to retain visitors. By using this url, you’ll find my 404 error page; http://www.equineartist.com/home.html

  • That’s even better than mine because you have the entire menu for your site there. I’ll have to put this on my task list! Thanks, Karen.

  • This is mine: http://www.lisavollrath.com/404.php WordPress comes with the instructions on building a custom 404, and it’s really been helpful with all the broken links created by migrating my site into new software.

  • This is indeed an important feature to implement on a web site. I specialize in building web applications that let artists easily and quickly build professional web sites without needing to know all the html behind the site. All of my sites automatically include a custom 404 page. To see what I mean visit this following dead link to me site: http://www.webartsites.com/4/lp_9611

  • If you are moving or renaming pages on a site, you increase the risk of visitors ending up with a “Page Not Found” message. Regardless of how attractive or helpful the error message page is, it’s annoying to find that a page no longer exists that was once considered a favorite and bookmarked. There is an easy and very considerate solution — put a “redirect” page in place of the one that’s been removed. The code is very simple and I’ve included it below. With the REFRESH CONTENT=”0″ the visitor is quickly taken to the correct page, usually without noticing a delay. Change the URL= to point to the new page and you’ll provide easy navigation without error messages for your visitors.

  • Well, the blog wouldn’t accept the code I mentioned in the previous comment. So I’ll try to get around it by eliminating most of the tags. Create a META tag after the TITLE tag and before the BODY tag that includes the following info with < and > on either end of this statement: HTTP-EQUIV=REFRESH CONTENT=”0; URL=http://www.domainname.com/filename.htm”

  • Pat, this is cool! I’m going to have to do this with some big changes I have coming up in the ArtBizCoach.com site! Thanks so much.