How to add a Custom 404 error page without a plugin in WordPress / Woocommerce

Are you looking to design custom 404 error pages that keep users engaged on your site? Although error pages are typically places you don’t want visitors to end up, they can be transformed into positive experiences.

One of the most effective ways to achieve this is by creating a fully customized 404 error page for your WordPress site. With the right tools and design, you can turn this error into an engaging and user-friendly experience. Best of all, you don’t need any coding skills or redirect plugins.

In this post, we’ll explore the advantages of custom error pages and guide you through three methods to create one for your WordPress website.

The Benefits of a Custom Error 404 Page

A 404 error page informs users that there was an issue with their request, such as mistyping a URL or attempting to access a page that no longer exists. This can be frustrating for visitors and might lead them to leave your site if there’s no clear way forward.

However, a well-designed custom error page can mitigate this frustration and improve your site’s user experience (UX). By aligning the design with your site’s overall look and feel, you can maintain a consistent and stylish appearance.

Additionally, you can include internal links on your error page, allowing visitors to easily navigate your site without returning to the home page. This not only enhances user-friendliness but also helps search engines better understand your content, thereby boosting your site’s authority.

How to Design a Custom Error 404 WordPress Page

Typically, standard error pages provide little content for users to engage with, which can lead them to look elsewhere for answers. By adding elements like search bars and navigation menus, you can encourage visitors to continue exploring your site, reducing bounce rates and potentially improving your search rankings.

Finally, custom error pages offer a unique opportunity to showcase your brand’s personality and convey your company’s message and values. Creative 404 pages can enhance brand perception and increase awareness of your company’s identity.

By following these guidelines, you can create custom error pages that not only keep users on your site but also turn a potential frustration into a memorable part of their experience.

Tip: use this open source library to get your graphic

How to Create a Custom Error 404 WordPress Page without a plugin

In order to add a custom 404 page in WordPress, create a file in your child theme (for best results, you can copy the 404.php file from your theme into your child theme and then edit the content to match your taste.)

Create 404.php file

Example code:

 * The template for displaying 404 pages (Not Found) By wpsnippet club
 * @package WordPress

get_header(); ?>

<div id="primary" class="content-area">
    <main id="main" class="site-main" role="main">
        <section class="error-404 not-found">
            <header class="page-header">
                <h1 class="page-title"><?php esc_html_e( 'Oops! That page can’t be found.', 'your-theme-text-domain' ); ?></h1>
            </header><!-- .page-header -->

            <div class="page-content">
                <p><?php esc_html_e( 'It looks like nothing was found at this location. Maybe try a search?', 'your-theme-text-domain' ); ?></p>

                <?php get_search_form(); ?>

                <p><a href="<?php echo esc_url( home_url( '/' ) ); ?>"><?php esc_html_e( 'Return to the homepage', 'your-theme-text-domain' ); ?></a></p>
            </div><!-- .page-content -->
        </section><!-- .error-404 -->
    </main><!-- .site-main -->
</div><!-- .content-area -->

<?php get_footer(); ?>

Why You Need a 404 Page

A 404 page appears when someone tries to access a page on your site that doesn’t exist, often due to mistyped URLs, broken links, or deleted content. Without a 404 page, users might see a generic browser error, leading to confusion and frustration.

Benefits of Having a 404 Page for User Experience

  1. Enhances User Experience: A thoughtfully designed 404 page delivers a clear and friendly message to users, letting them know the page they’re looking for is unavailable. This minimizes confusion and frustration, encouraging users to remain on your site.
  2. Keeps Users Engaged: Even when users land on a 404 page, they may still want to explore your site. A well-crafted 404 page can guide them to other relevant pages, preventing them from leaving your site altogether.
  3. Retains Visitors: Instead of losing users to broken links, a helpful 404 page can redirect them to related content, keeping them interested and engaged.
  4. Maintains Brand Consistency: A custom 404 page can mirror your website’s branding and tone, reinforcing your brand identity even in error situations. This ensures a consistent look and feel throughout the user experience.
  5. Reduces Bounce Rates: A bounce occurs when a user visits just one page and leaves immediately. A user-friendly 404 page can lower bounce rates by offering alternative content options, encouraging further exploration.
  6. Boosts SEO: Search engines track user interactions, including how often users encounter 404 errors. A custom 404 page can help lessen the negative impact of broken links on your site’s search engine rankings.
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