The custom 404 error page is very important for the website to attract more users & increase the web traffic. ‘HTTP 404 error’ we get when an invalid or wrong URL is requested in the web server. When the user request a webpage the request is sent through HTTP from client to server, the webs server will return a status code of the request through the HTTP header. 404 is the response code that is returned from the web server when the specified page or URL is not part of the application. In any communication there is a request and a response, in web server when we place a request for the specified URL the web server returns a response code. When the web server returns a response code of 404 that describes the specified URL is not valid and 200 is returned if the request is valid.
404 error page does not give much information to the visitor about the reason for error and how to proceed further. Hence a custom 404 Error page is required to clearly describe the reason for ‘404 Error Message’ and additional information like user may have typed a wrong URL or the specified resource has been moved or renamed.
For future prospects this page can be made more interesting to retain the visitor. Most of the visitors just leave the site when they get the 404 error & very few technical persons try with an alternate URL. Hence to retain them, there should be better improvement in 404 error page by promoting some funny or interesting pictures, graphics in the page or providing with search engine which will help user to find their link or required page. Custom 404 error page should get the page which the users are looking for. The custom error page need not display the Status code 404 in the custom error page as it does not give any information like the source for the error or the steps to be taken to proceed further.
Custom 404 error page also influence visitor to halt on the web browser and try the requirement via multiple links. So this page should always make sure that the visitor/user has a option to get the resource that he had requested for. There can be an option in the custom error page to submit broken link to the webmaster. Hence this page not only drive visitor but also help web designer to understand visitor requirement and to upgrade website accordingly. Tracking the 404 error is very important as it give the web master the clear picture what are broken links in the web site and the information that people are looking for in the website. It should also give a clear information that 404 is not because the web server is not available it’s just because the specified resource is not valid or the link is broken. Custom error page should look different from the rest of the pages in the application & this page should not hold any ads that distract the user from understanding the actual problem.
Web master should monitor the statistics of the website which gives clear information about how many visitors have got the error that helps to find how many users are just leaving the site when they get a 404 error. Custom error page helps in search engine optimization by making most of the pages as indexed & increase the web site traffic. From an SEO perceptive the best result would be to redirect to the custom error page in case of any broken links. Analysing 404 error log can help the website administrator to detect scans for holes or installed scripts.