It is common that the “404 Error” page is the most overlooked and forgotten by the blog owners because it is the last thing in their minds that such page is ever needed. Many of them will be more concerned about the functionality, look and feel or even busy thinking of content for the blog than anything else. However, the 404 Error page is important because your visitors should be told and properly directed to a place where they could find assistance. This will increase the user friendliness of your blog and salvage your visitors from leaving your blog too soon.
In fact, the “404 Error” page is already included in the WordPress default theme, you should be able to see a page named “Whoops! 404 Error!” at the Pages section. However, if you are using Headway Themes, it will ignore the “Whoops! 404 Error!” page and use its own default system page named “404 Page”. There is a problem with this page as it requires some set up before you can use it otherwise when your visitors encounter an invalid or missing page at your blog, the 404 page will be shown as empty page.
Below are the steps to set up your 404 page.
- In your WordPress dashboard, go to your Visual Editor.
- Once inside the Visual Editor, go the top right corner and at the second drop-down box, select “404 Page” from the “-System Pages -“.
- Click on “Switches to Pages” to go to “404 Page”.
- If you have not set up this page before, it should be blank.
- Move your mouse to the content leaf and click on the “Pencil” icon to edit.
- A pop-up box will appear and under the “Mode” tab and at the “Fetch Content From Other Page”, select “Whoops! 404 Error!”.
(If you do not see this page, you can manually create one at your WordPress Pages section).
- Click “Publish Changes” to save, you will immediately see some text appear once you do so.
- These texts came from your “Whoops! 404 Error!” page so if you want to make changes to the texts, go back to the page at WordPress Pages section to do it.
- Next, if you want to add a widget to your sidebar to your 404 Page, you could do so by going back to the Visual Editor.
- If you are not at the 404 page, repeat step 2-3 to go to the page.
- Then click on the “pencil” icon at the sidebar to edit.
- A “Widget Ready Sidebar” box will pop up, under the “Options” tab at the “Sidebar Content”, select the Sidebar you want to copy from.
(Note: If you have created more than one sidebar then you will have a few options to select from but if you want it to be differently from the rest then you can create a new sidebar).
- Once done, click on “Publish Changes” to save.
- You should be able to see the sidebar appearing on the 404 page.
It is recommended that you add in some useful text rather than a chunk of text stating the page is missing or not found. You can either add an email so that visitors can report the missing page or a link to the sitemap where they can check out themselves. Hopefully by doing so, it will make your visitors feel less intimidating when they encounter a 404 page.