One of the things I loved the most about the Aprils of my childhood were the egg hunts. Waking up on Sunday and searching around the house for that elusive basket filled to the brim with Cadbury creme eggs, chocolate bunnies, and fake green grass makes me smile even now. It also makes me crave some delicious chocolate, but I’ll save the obsessive candy talk for another post.
Those mornings were great because discovering something hidden came with its own little thrill, candy aside. Who doesn’t love obscure surprises?
I’ve got a way to give your site visitors a nice, obscure prize yourself (unfortunately, I don’t know of any way to give them all chocolate).
When a visitor navigates to a page on your site that doesn’t exist, they’re presented with a “404” or “Not Found” error message. Squarespace automatically provides your website with one. They typically look like this:
Useful, yes, but that page isn’t really anything to get excited about.
However, Squarespace also gives you the ability to create your own custom 404 error page. This may not seem like the most pressing issue when creating your site. Ideally, your visitors will never see this page. And if Squarespace provides a functional one, then why mess with it?
I hear you, but consider this page an opportunity to fill more of your site with your own personal style and character. This is a chance to delight your visitors even when something unintended happens to them. It’s also an easy thing to set up.
Creating a custom 404 error page
We’re going to set up this page in four simple steps. Buckle up.
1. In the Pages panel, create a new page (a Regular Page and a Cover Page work best) and place it in the Not Linked section.
2. Name this page something like “404 Error,” including its URL in the Page Settings window.
3. Style this page as you would any other in your site. Be sure to explain that the visitor to this page has arrived there through a dead link or an incorrect URL. It’s a good idea to include a link or button here allowing the visitor to return to your site’s home page, as well.
4. When your 404 page is looking how you want, navigate to the Home Menu, click Settings, then click Advanced. Head to the 404 Error/Page Not Found panel, click the drop-down menu, and select your appropriately titled 404 Error page.
There you go! Now when a visitor accidentally ends up in the wrong place on your site, they’ll be greeted by your personal message and a helpful way to get back to your home page.
Those little touches go a long way toward creating a positive connection with your visitors. Most people won’t see it, but those that do will find it very helpful.
Keep being charming, cats.