This post is part of our Typeface the Nation series: a nonpartisan look at the design thinking behind the 2020 presidential candidates and their campaigns.
At some point you’ve no doubt come across a web page like this:
The “Page Not Found” page (or 404 Not Found page in technical parlance) is that dreaded dead end on a website that tells a visitor “There’s nothing to see here.” Visitors generally reach this page by entering a web address incorrectly, or by trying to load content that has been archived or moved to a different page.
If a visitor reaches your 404 page, the last thing you want them to do is close out the browser tab and move on.
When designed correctly, the 404 page can actually turn a lost visitor into a loyal customer. It’s also an opportunity to have fun with your brand and make a memorable impression.
Some of the best 404 pages can be found on presidential campaign websites, where retaining and connecting with visitors is the top priority. Let’s take a look at 3 best practices found on these sites that can be applied to your company’s own 404 page.
1. Inform the visitor they’ve reached the page in error
Your 404 page needs to communicate that the page the visitor is trying to access does not exist. Candidates take this a step further by employing clever or humorous language that is also a reflection of their brand.
2. Provide useful links to other pages on your site
At a minimum your 404 page should link back to your home page. This is also a chance to drive visitors to top performing pages or key conversion funnels. In fact, more than half of campaign 404’s include links to volunteer, donate, or a mailing list signup.
3. Connect with your visitor
Showing a little personality is a great way to connect with a visitor. Presidential campaigns are serious business, but their 404 pages often feature candid (and even self-deprecating) videos or gifs to make the candidate more relatable.
Even the incumbent is getting in on the gag:
The 404 page is one of the most important pages on your website. As these presidential campaign websites show, it’s an opportunity to retain visitors and reinforce a brand’s personality. Your company’s 404 page should do the same.
And just for fun, check out our 404 page — we had a lot of fun making it.
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