404 vs. redirect

Since I just had some discussion with some coding guys about the importance of a custom 404 site (don’t blame me for my one over here – this is my playground!) I thought that’s a good topic for a short (I really try to keep this one pretty short) post.

So basically my coding guys use to implement redirections on every page they create. Meaning when you do a typo or enter the page via a broken link, you’ll always be redirected to the homepage (/index.php or whatever you call it). I, obviously, insisted that I can not recommend that kind of error handling.

Why not? Well, most of my coding guys keep telling me that it’s “pretty cool” to send users directly to a designated site (homepage) when a 404 happens. But just think of it from a user perspective. You enter a site via a broken link and it shows something completely different than you expected. That’s not “cool”, I guess.

Example: You’re looking for golf equipement and find a site that shows a link to a sports shop with a golf departement. You expect to be directed to the golf section when clicking the link. Unfortunately the webmaster had a typo on it’s site and does not direct you to sportshop.com/html/golf.html but to sportshop.com/hmtl/golf.html. – In this case you’d be redirected to the homepage. Obviously not that bad since you could navigate your way to the golf section of course. But on the other hand it’s not a perfect solution, since you, as a user, don’t know why you’re redirected to the homepage. So what would be a better solution?

Right! An individual 404 page! This page would show a header like “sorry, the page you tried to enter does not exist” (or something more funny) and would offer solutions like similiar pages or posts to the search query, a link to the sitemap and a search box. Everything in CI, of course.

As you can see, I’m a fan of customized 404 pages. If you send failure messages to potential customers, do it with style 😉

  • Steve

    Kurz, prägnant, informativ, unterhaltsam, einfach lesenswert.