August 4, 2022

A Guide to Editing a 404 Page in WordPress

About 80% of visitors are less likely to buy from a site that performs poorly. Generic error pages that generate no value can frustrate users and cause them to turn to competitors with better-designed pages

However, businesses can give their 404 pages value and retain consumer interest by meeting expectations. Read on to learn some ways that you can make your WordPress 404 error page messages interactive, engaging, and true to your brand.

What is a 404 Page?

A 404 error page denotes that the user has clicked a broken link or incorrectly typed the website URL into their browser. In some cases, it denotes that the webpage never existed despite being linked to your domain.

Every 4XX status code denotes a different error. For example, 403 Forbidden pages are shown to those who request existing data that they don’t have access to. 404 pages are the most famous code that speaks to client errors.

You may think that all 404 pages look the same across the web, but this is incorrect.

Consider a website with the URL If this page has no explicit “about” section, typing in will give an error 404 message. This error page will still be linked to the website because it falls under its online jurisdiction/URL.

This gives the website operator the ability to customize the error page. The goal is to fit the overall tone of the website and create branded content in all areas.

Why Customize Your Error Page?

Creating an attractive 404 page is a privilege because you can make it your own. About 74% of internet users will bounce if they get a 404 error message, never to return again.

Users will appreciate a humorous message when they click a broken link or enjoy a funny graphic that you incorporate onto your website. This can reduce your bounce rate to ensure that search engine crawlers see that you are still relevant and reputable.

Another reason to customize this page is that it can serve as a link-building strategy. You can incorporate links to your home page, landing page, or even contact page to get people to remain on your website. These internal links make your page easier for consumers to browse and a breeze for Google bots to index.

What Does a Good 404 Page Look Like?

The main aspect of any 404 page is, of course, the error message. It needs to be clear and explicit so that everyone understands what is not working. An example would be “404 Error: broken link” or “404 Error: content not found.”

However, you also need to inject some humour in the form of an apology. Let people know that you’re sorry for any inconvenience, but phrase it in a unique and funny way.

Puns are always a good idea. For example, popcorn retailer Pipcorn asks users to find their way to their “a-maize-ing website.” Sympathizing with consumers in an unexpectedly humorous way is also beneficial, such as Moxie Design Co’s message that deems the invalid request a “bummer.”

wpassist 404 page

Once you have your message written out, it’s time to insert a link back to another page on your website. Make sure that the content is relevant to the missing page. You want to show something similar so that users see the content closest to what they’re looking for.

Since 91% of people prefer visuals over written content, it’s also important to provide something visually engaging on your 404 error page. A simple infographic or minimalistic drawing will do the trick nicely. You also can choose funny photos if you want something more realistic.

You won’t find a lot of dedicated 404-page plugins since it’s such a niche need. However, there are still a few plugins that can help you create and edit error pages.

404page Plugin

404page banner

404page is one of the simplest plugins that can help you with this task. You don’t need any coding skills- this plugin is far less complex than a page builder is. All you need to do is install and activate the plugin and create a 404 page.

At this point, you can go to your WordPress dashboard and select “Appearance.” Click “404 Error Page” and choose a template to start customizing. This process is extremely easy since you can add text and photos instantly without any technical knowledge.

The plugin is designed to work with as many themes as it possibly can, so it should be compatible with whatever WordPress theme you use. This is because it detects and deals with errors using the WordPress Template System. If your site doesn’t use this system, there’s a “compatibility mode” attached to the plugin so that you can try it on all sites.

One awesome feature of this plugin is that it’s completely free. You don’t need to take a financial hit to create a 404 error page that meets your exact vision.

It also is extremely secure. It sets no cookies and doesn’t collect or store any data. Since it doesn’t collect data, it also can’t sell it or send information to external servers.

404page is also different from most alternatives because it doesn’t redirect users to other areas of your website. This works for some developers because it tells search engines to remove the page from the index.

However, it generally is not ideal because users will likely bounce after seeing the error page. There’s no way to insert a redirect link. If your goal is keeping clients on your site and making it easy to index, this may not be the plugin for you.

All 404 Redirect Plugin

All 404 Redirect Banner

The All 404 Redirect to Homepage and Broken Images Redirection plugin takes a complete 180 from 404page.

This name might be clunky, but the plugin itself is far from it. It doesn’t even redirect to an error page. Instead, it takes the user right back to another area of your website.

It does this by using 301 SEO redirect. You can manually select the page that you want to direct traffic to.

Using a plugin that automatically sends people to another area of your website makes it easy to index. Google Crawlers won’t see people getting trapped at a dead end on your site and bouncing. Instead, they’ll see a high click-through rate and retention of site traffic.

Consumers are also more likely to stay on your webpage when taken back to another area of the site. They won’t have the chance to get irritated and bounce. They’ll just start clicking on other links as though the redirection never happened.

However, it makes it more difficult for visitors to figure out why they’re being directed to new areas of the website rather than the pages that they clicked on. Unless you discuss the plugin’s features on your site, it might cause confusion and frustration. You also won’t have the chance to make an impact with a funny error message.

Colorlib 404 Customizer

Colorlib 404 Customizer

If you want the best of both worlds, Colorlib 404 Customizer is a great choice. You can insert images, change the background colour, and place fun messages on your error page. You also can insert links to other areas of your site and redirect to social media as well.

When you use this plugin, you gain access to a feature called the Live Customizer. You can then edit the 404 error page to match the overall design of your website. This lets you maintain a consistent brand message across all areas of your site.

There are 20 pre-designed templates that you can choose from. However, there are hundreds of ways to customize them so that you can match your precise design vision.

It also requires no coding or technical skills since the Live Customizer is so easy to use. However, those who know their way around the plugin can also add customized CSS code to their error page.

Colorlib 404 Customizer also works with all WordPress themes. Once you set it up, you can add social media buttons that boost your SEO strategy. You can also set the background image, colour, fonts, and page that you want to link visitors back to after they hit the error message.

Professional WordPress support services can help anyone with this task to ensure that the page remains attractive and user-friendly.

Optimize Your WordPress Site Today

While getting a 404 page is annoying for any consumer, having a well-designed and engaging error message can keep your bounce rate low. Now that you know some of the best ways to optimize your WordPress 404 error message, it’s time to enlist professional help to make yours stand out.

WP Assist is committed to helping you figure out the plugins and features that can make your site stand out. Our experts are passionate about both site design and functionality so that you can ensure the best consumer experience. Book a call with us to discuss your individual needs and begin the optimization process.

Join Our Newsletter

Stay up to date on the latest WordPress tips and news