By Nardo Kuitert, U-C WEBS
[Published in Minding Our Business, August 2008 for the Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce]
Well, maybe you do…and maybe you don’t. Many website owners do not know whether their web designer took care of this. And I am saying “took care of this” because a custom 404 error page is something that all web designers should include in all of the sites they create or maintain.
If you still don’t know what it is: compare www.grandriver.ca/aaa with www.tdcanadatrust.com/aaa. Or even worse: www.rogers.com/aaa. You have seen that dreaded page before, right? “The page cannot be found”, which is a 404 error page (404 is the type of error: a missing page). Well, sometimes this happens: you try to access a non-existent page – a page may have been moved, you accidentally type in the wrong URL, someone makes a typo in a link to a site… In this example I just typed in the bogus page name “aaa”.
So if we know that these accidents happen from time to time, on ANY site, it would be helpful if someone could get you back on your way. That generic white “The page cannot be found” page does not really help; what the TD Canada Trust website has is a lot better, with links to their home page, Internet banking page, Internet brokerage service and more – in English and in French. The large fonts look a bit strange, but at least you are being presented with a number of links that lead you back into the site. www.globeandmail.com/aaa is another example of a nice custom error page.
There are a number of ways to create such a custom error page. You can create it yourself, and name it 404.shtml. Many hosting companies have online wizards to help you create a custom 404. Just look for it in your hosting company’s cPanel, VDeck or whatever the name of this control panel is in case. (If you do not have a control panel like this, which also allows you to manage your email accounts, statistics and more, you may want to consider switching hosting companies…) And if you do not fancy doing this yourself: ask your web designer!
For more information: contact your Webmaster, or email Nardo Kuitert at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nardo Kuitert is an Internet Consultant with Fergus Website Development and Optimization firm U-C WEBS (www.u-cwebs.com). U-C WEBS also offers Internet advertising opportunities on www.ferguspages.com. (link opens in a new window)
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