404 Error Pages: Turning a Bug Into a Feature

A 404 code, or the “page not found” error, is the default error message that is displayed when a user attempts to access a URL that does not exist on the server. While a 404 page can be frustrating for users, it can also be an opportunity for web designers to create a positive user experience. A useful and well designed 404 page should help retain users and improve their experience on your website.

When visitors encounter too many 404 errors on your site, it can cause harm in multiple ways. Not only does it increase the bounce rate and make users less likely to return, but it can also harm your site’s SEO. So your first course of action should be to try to minimize 404’s happening in the first place. Regularly scan your site for broken links, and create redirects for typo links coming from external sites.

Once you’ve mitigated the risk of users encountering these errors, you should prepare for the inevitability that a few will still happen. Here are some things to think about when creating your 404 page.

A-pear-ently this page isn't peeling so grape.
  • Keep it simple. The 404 page should be easy to understand and navigate. It should be clear that the page the user is looking for doesn’t exist, and it should provide clear instructions on how to find the content they are looking for.
  • Apologize and explain. Your site failed to supply the user with the content they were looking for, so it’s important to apologize for the error and explain why it occurred. This can help ease their frustration and provide context for the situation.
  • Provide helpful links. A helpful 404 page should provide links to other pages on your website that may be of interest to the user. This can include links to the homepage, popular pages, or a site map. This can help the user find the content they are looking for, even if it’s not on the exact page they were trying to access.
  • Keep it light-hearted. Humor can be a great way to turn a frustrating situation into a positive experience. Consider using a witty message or image to help lighten the mood.
  • Add a search bar. Including a search box on your error page can be a helpful way for users to find the content they are looking for, even if they don’t know the exact URL.
  • Keep it on-brand. While a 404 page is an error page, it’s still part of your website. Make sure the page is consistent with your brand and website design.
  • Monitor and improve. It’s important to monitor your website for 404 errors and make improvements to your 404 page as needed. Regularly checking for broken links and updating your page can help ensure users have a positive experience.
  • Make it visually appealing. Even though a 404 error page is not a critical part of your website, it is still important to make it visually appealing. This will help to create a positive user experience.
Peas don't cheddar tear, this page has gone to a butter plate.

In addition to providing users with information and links, it’s important to provide them with an easy way to contact you. This is helpful to the user if they still can’t find the page they’re looking for, and it alerts you right away that a page on your site might be missing.

A 404 page is something that many web developers don’t even think about. But creating a helpful and informative one can help retain users and improve their experience on your website. By utilizing some of these tips, you can turn a frustrating situation into a positive experience.

Exploring Navigation: Best Practices for Website Menus

Website navigation is a crucial aspect of web design that can make or break a user’s experience. When done correctly, it helps users find what they are looking for quickly and efficiently. However, when done poorly, it can frustrate users and drive them away from your website. Well formatted navigation is important for search engine optimization, to help web crawlers navigate the flow of your site. In this article, we will discuss website navigation best practices and common mistakes to avoid.

Menu Locations and Their Uses

  • Top navigation: The top global navigation is the most common type of navigation bar. It is typically located at the top or bottom of the website header and contains links to the most important pages on the site. The top navigation is a great way to provide users with quick and easy access to the most important content on your website.
  • Sidebar navigation: The side navigation is a great way to provide users with a more detailed view of the website’s structure, and can help users find specific content on your website. It’s sometimes used to show links related to the main content on the current page.
  • Footer navigation: The footer navigation is located at or near the bottom of the website and contains links to important pages such as the contact page, privacy policy, and terms of service. The footer navigation is a great way to provide users with quick and easy access to this important information.

Website Navigation Best Practices

  • Keep it Simple: One of the key navigation best practices is to keep it simple. Your website’s navigation should be easy to understand and use to improve your UX. Avoid using complex menus or confusing labels. The fewer navigation options you have, the easier it will be for users to find what they are looking for.
  • Be Consistent: Consistency is key when it comes to website navigation. Use the same navigation structure and terminology throughout your website, so users know where they are and how to get where they want to go.
  • Make it Easy to Find: Your website’s navigation should be easy to find and accessible from every page. A common location for navigation is at the top of the page, but you can also include it in the footer or sidebar.
  • Use Descriptive Labels: Use clear and concise labels for your navigation links. Avoid using generic labels like “Links” or “Pages” and instead use more specific and descriptive labels, so that users know what to expect when they click on them.
  • Prioritize Important Pages: Promote the most important pages in your navigation by placing them first or highlighting them with a different color or style.
  • Group Related Items: Placing similar links together can make it easier and quicker for users to find the information they are looking for.
  • Use a Logical Hierarchy: The navigation system should be organized in a logical hierarchy of pages, subpages, and categories. This will help users to understand the relationships between the different pages on the website.
  • Icons: Simple and recognizable icons can help to make your navigation system more visually appealing and easier to use. Just be sure to use images and icons that are relevant to your content and that are easy to understand.
  • Breadcrumbs: Breadcrumb trails are a line of text or links that shows users the hierarchy of the page they are on. Breadcrumbs are a great way to help users understand where they are on a website and how to get back to where they started.
  • Search: If your website has a lot of content, it is important to make it easy for users to search for what they are looking for. Search is also a great way to help users find content that they may not be able to find through the regular navigation system.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Your navigation is only as strong as your weakest link.

  • Too Many Options: Too many options in your website’s navigation can be overwhelming for users. Limit your navigation options to the most important pages.
  • Poor Organization: Poorly organized navigation can make it difficult for users to find what they are looking for. Organize your navigation based on categories or topics.
  • Hidden Navigation: Hidden navigation, such as hamburger menus, can be confusing for some users. If you use hidden navigation, make sure it is easy to find and use. It should be prominently displayed on all pages of the website.
  • Non-Descriptive Labels: Generic labels like “Click Here” or “Learn More” can be confusing for users. Use clear and descriptive labels for your navigation links.
  • Broken Links: Broken links in your navigation can lead to frustration for users. Regularly check all the links in your navigation for 404 errors or other problems.

By following these tips and avoiding these common mistakes, you can design a website navigation system that is easy to use, intuitive, and consistent. This will help to improve the user experience and make it more likely that users will return to your website.

The Importance of Accessibility and Usability in Web Design

Web design accessibility is a crucial aspect of creating websites that can be accessed and enjoyed by everyone, including people with disabilities. Making your website accessible means that it can be used by those with visual, auditory, physical, and cognitive disabilities. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it also makes good business sense. An accessible website can increase your audience and improve the user experience for all visitors.

Accessibility is something not typically considered by novices trying to build a DIY website. This is why it’s important to hire an experienced web designer, or to do the research and learn how to implement these concepts.

There are several steps that can be taken to make a website accessible. One important step is to use descriptive alt text for all images, which helps screen readers and visually impaired users understand the content of your website.

When it comes to design, high-contrast color schemes are essential for making your website accessible to users with visual impairments. This means using colors that have a significant difference in brightness between light and dark areas, so that text and other important elements stand out clearly.

HTML5 is the foundation of web accessibility. By using semantic HTML tags, you can provide context and meaning to your content, making it easier for assistive technologies like screen readers to understand. This includes using headings to structure your content, and using labels and input types to make forms and interactive elements more accessible.

Another important consideration is the use of ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) attributes. These attributes can be used to provide additional context and information for screen readers, and can help make complex web interfaces more accessible.

In addition, it’s important to consider the usability of your website. This includes making sure that users can navigate your website easily using a keyboard, rather than just a mouse, and ensuring that your website is responsive and works well on different devices and screen sizes. This is especially important for users with physical disabilities that may make using a mouse difficult or impossible.

Lastly, it’s important to test your website for accessibility. There are a variety of tools and resources available that can help you identify areas of your website that may be difficult for users with disabilities. By taking the time to make your website accessible, you can ensure that everyone can enjoy your content and benefit from your website. Focusing on these improvements will also give you an added SEO benefit, as search engines can more easily understand the structure of your site.

Overall, web design accessibility requires a combination of thoughtful design and technical implementation. By focusing on these key factors, you can create a website that is accessible to everyone, regardless of their abilities or disabilities.

Boost Your Search Engine Rankings with Effective Link Building Strategies

Link building is a crucial component of search engine optimization (SEO). It involves acquiring links from other websites back to your own website, with the aim of improving your search engine rankings. In this article, we will discuss the importance of link building for SEO, the different types of links, and some effective strategies for building high-quality links.

The Importance of Link Building for SEO

Search engines like Google use links as one of the key ranking factors for websites. The more high-quality links a website has pointing back to it, the more likely it is to rank well in search engine results pages (SERPs). However, not all links are created equal. Search engines place more value on links from reputable websites that are relevant to your content. Therefore, it’s essential to focus on building high-quality links that will have a positive impact on your website’s SEO.

Types of Links

You don’t need a chiropractor to fix your back links

There are three main types of links: internal links, outbound links, and inbound links (also known as backlinks). Internal links are links from one page on your website to another. Outbound links are links from your website to other websites. Inbound links are links from other websites back to your website.

Inbound links are the most important type of link for SEO, as they indicate to search engines that other websites consider your content to be valuable and authoritative. However, it’s important to note that not all inbound links are created equal. Links from reputable websites that are relevant to your content are more valuable than links from low-quality or irrelevant websites.

Effective Strategies for Building High-Quality Links

  1. Guest Posting: One of the most effective strategies for building high-quality inbound links is through guest posting. This involves writing an article for another website in your industry or niche, with a link back to your website included in the author bio or within the article itself. By providing valuable content to other websites, you can earn high-quality links and increase your website’s visibility.
  2. Broken Link Building: Another effective strategy is broken link building. This involves finding broken links on other websites in your industry or niche, and then contacting the website owner to suggest a replacement link to your website. This can be a win-win situation for both parties, as the website owner can fix their broken link, and you can earn a valuable inbound link.
  3. Resource Link Building: Resource link building involves creating high-quality, informative content on your website that other websites in your industry or niche are likely to link to as a resource. This could include guides, tutorials, infographics, or other types of content that provide value to your target audience.

Link building is an essential component of SEO that can have a significant impact on your website’s search engine rankings. By focusing on building high-quality inbound links from reputable websites that are relevant to your content, and using effective strategies like guest posting, broken link building, and resource link building, you can improve your website’s visibility and drive more organic traffic to your site.

The Basics of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

So you have a website, but can your potential customers find it? Having a website is a great start, but it’s not enough to reach your audience. You need to ensure that your site is optimized for search engines, so that people can easily find you online. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your website to improve its visibility and ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs). Search ranking is a competitive space, so it will take some time and work. Let’s talk a bit about the fundamentals of how to improve your online search presence.

Keyword Research

Keyword research is the foundation of any SEO strategy. It involves identifying the keywords and phrases that your audience is using to search for information related to your business or organization. Once you have identified these keywords, you can use them strategically in your website’s content, including page titles, headlines, body content, image alt text, and meta descriptions. This will help search engines understand the relevance of your website to the keywords your audience is searching for.

Not a Thanksgiving dish

On-Page Optimization

On-page optimization refers to the process of optimizing individual pages on your website. This includes evaluating and tweaking your website’s content, titles, meta tags, headings, images, and URLs. Ensure that your website’s content is relevant, high-quality, and engaging for your audience. Use keywords naturally throughout your content and optimize your titles, meta descriptions, and headings to include relevant keywords. Use alt tags to describe images, and optimize your URLs for readability and relevance.

Mobile Optimization

With more people using mobile devices to access the internet, mobile optimization is crucial for SEO. Ensure that your website is optimized for mobile devices, with a responsive design that adapts to different screen sizes. A mobile-friendly website will improve your website’s user experience and make it more accessible to your audience, which can lead to improved rankings on search engine results pages. Many search engines also give a ranking boost to sites with mobile compatibility, giving you that extra edge.

Page Speed

Page speed is another important factor in SEO. Ensure that your website loads quickly, with a page speed of three seconds or less. A website that takes forever to load can easily turn people away. Use tools such as Google’s PageSpeed Insights to identify areas where you can optimize your website for faster loading times. Optimizing images, using a content delivery network (CDN), and minimizing HTTP requests are just a few ways to improve your website’s page speed.

Link Building

Link building is the process of getting other websites to link back to your website. Search engines consider backlinks to be a signal of a website’s authority and relevance. However, it’s important to focus on quality over quantity when it comes to link building. Aim to get links from reputable websites in your industry, and avoid spammy or low-quality links.

White Hat vs Black Hat

White hat and black hat SEO are two very different approaches to search engine optimization. White hat SEO refers to techniques that are approved by search engines and focus on improving website rankings through high-quality content, keyword research, and user experience. Examples of white hat SEO include optimizing website content, conducting keyword research, and building high-quality inbound links.

On the other hand, black hat SEO refers to techniques that aim to manipulate search engine algorithms in order to achieve higher rankings, often using techniques that are against search engine guidelines. Examples of black hat SEO include keyword stuffing, cloaking, and link farms. These techniques can result in short-term gains in search engine rankings, but they carry significant risks, including being penalized or banned by search engines.

While black hat SEO techniques may offer quick results, they are not sustainable in the long term, and they can harm your website’s reputation and online presence. It is important for website owners to focus on using white hat SEO techniques that prioritize creating quality content and a positive user experience, while also complying with search engine guidelines.

Optimizing your website for search engines is a crucial component of any digital marketing strategy. By using these strategies, you can improve your website’s visibility, ranking, and ultimately, drive more traffic to your homepage. Remember to keep your audience in mind, and create high-quality, relevant content that meets their needs. With a little effort and attention, you can achieve great results with SEO.

Why do I need a website when I can just use social media?

In today’s digital age, having a website is essential for any business or organization that wants to establish an online presence. While social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are great for promoting content and connecting with your audience, having a website provides a range of benefits that social media alone cannot match. Here we’ll explore some of the reasons why having a website is better than relying solely on social media.

A Custom Website Gives You Complete Control

One of the biggest advantages of a website vs social media is that you have greater control over your online presence. With social media platforms, you are at the mercy of the platform’s algorithms and policies. Your content may not always be shown to your followers, and you may be limited in terms of the type and format of content you can share. With a website, you have complete control over the design, content, and functionality of your site. This means you can tailor your website to your specific needs and goals, without being constrained by the limitations of social media platforms.

Your Website, Your Branding

A website is an opportunity to establish a strong brand identity that is unique to your business or organization. With social media, you are limited to using the platform’s pre-designed templates and themes. While you can customize your profile picture, header image, and bio, you may not be able to fully express your brand’s personality and values. With a website, you can design your site to match your brand’s colors, typography, and overall aesthetic. This can help you stand out from your competitors and create a more memorable impression on your audience.

Improved Credibility and Professionalism


Having a website can also improve your credibility and professionalism. A well-designed homepage shows that you are serious about your business or organization, and that you have invested time and resources into creating a professional online presence. A well-designed website can also establish trust with your audience, as it provides a platform to showcase your expertise, products, or services. This can be particularly important for businesses or organizations that are looking to build a loyal customer base and establish a long-term presence in their industry.

More Prominent Placement and Appearance in Search Engines

Another advantage of having a website is that it can be easier to find through search engines like Google. While social media profiles can be indexed by search engines, they may not always rank as highly as a well-designed website. A website can be optimized for search engines through techniques like keyword optimization, meta descriptions, and backlinks. This can help your website display higher in search engine results pages, making it easier for potential customers to find you.

Greater Flexibility

Finally, having a website provides greater flexibility in terms of the type of content you can share. While social media is great for sharing short-form content like photos, videos, and status updates, a website allows you to create and share long-form content like blog posts, articles, and white papers. This can help you establish yourself as an authority in your industry, and can also help attract a wider audience who are interested in your niche.

Outsmart Social Media Scammers

Another significant advantage of having a website is that it can help protect your audience from social media scammers. Unfortunately, social media is a hotbed for scams, with many fake accounts and fraudulent pages popping up daily. These bad actors often impersonate legitimate businesses and organizations, trying to trick people into giving away their personal information or money. By having a website, you can establish an authentic online presence that is less susceptible to scams. Your audience can visit your website and know that they are interacting with the real deal, without having to worry about the risk of getting scammed on social media.

So, while social media can be a valuable tool for promoting and sharing content, having a custom website provides a range of benefits that social media alone cannot match. With a website, you have greater control over your online presence, better branding opportunities, improved credibility, increased visibility, and greater flexibility in terms of the type of content you can share. By investing in a well-designed website, you can establish a strong online presence that helps you achieve your business or organizational goals.

Find a talented and experienced web developer with an artistic eye, and get a quote today!