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Web Site Design***
Your Traffic by Recovering Your Lost Visitors
If you spend any
time surfing the Internet, you've probably
encountered a few error messages.
Error messages have numerous
causes, such as misspellings, outdated
links or internal server errors. When
an error is encountered, your server will
display specific generic error pages according
to the error. These error pages are not
only dead ends, but they are also very
frustrating for your potential visitors.
When your visitors mistype
your web address or click on an outdated
link and receive the dreaded error page,
they'll most-likely click on their back
button and never return. However, you
can recover a majority of your lost visitors
simply by taking the time to create some
customized, user friendly error pages.
As servers run different
types of software and do not function
in the same manner, there isn't a simple
method for creating custom error pages
that will work with every system. However,
if you have your own domain and your site
is hosted on a Unix/Linux server running
Apache, this article will assist you in
creating custom error pages.
If you're not sure what
type of server you're on, visit the following
web address to find out:
Before we begin, keep
in mind, editing your server files is
serious business. Even one small typographical
error can wreak havoc -- make sure you
make a backup copy of any file you're
planning to edit.
Guidelines for creating
your error pages:
1. Create your error pages
in standard HTML -- just as you would
create any other web page for your site.
2. Don't alarm your visitors.
Never include the word "ERROR"
in large, bold text. Your visitors may
immediately become alarmed and think they've
done something to cause the error. Instead,
be apologetic and encourage your visitors
to click on the navigational links to
locate additional resources and information.
3. Your error pages should
look just like the rest of your web pages.
Each error page should contain good navigational
links, a search feature, and provide information
in regard to the specific error they received.
If you'd like to see an
example error page, visit the following
Once you've created an
error page, save it as the error name.
For example, if you're creating a customized
error page for a 400 Bad Request error,
your page should be saved as 400.html.
Here are some of the more
400 Bad Request
401 Authorization Required
404 File Not Found
405 Method Not Allowed
500 Internal Server Error
501 Method Not Implemented
502 Bad Gateway
503 Service Temporarily Unavailable
Once you've created your
pages, you'll need to access your server
via FTP and create a new folder called
"errordocs" where you store
your HTML files. Upload your new error
documents into your new folder.
Your next step will be
to locate your .htaccess file and download
it to your computer. (If you use FrontPage
to publish your web pages, you cannot
customize the .htaccess file, as FrontPage
uses the .htaccess file. Editing the file
may cause errors in your configuration.)
The .htaccess file should be located on
your server where you store your HTML
If the .htaccess file
isn't visible, you can create one within
a plain text editor. However, you must
first make sure your server isn't configured
to hide the file. Your FTP program should
enable you to choose to display hidden
files and folders on your server.
Once you've downloaded
your .htaccess file, open it within a
plain text editor, such as Note Pad, and
add the following lines below any other
text that may be present:
ErrorDocument 400 /errordocs/400.html
ErrorDocument 401 /errordocs/401.html
ErrorDocument 403 /errordocs/403.html
ErrorDocument 404 /errordocs/404.html
ErrorDocument 405 /errordocs/405.html
ErrorDocument 500 /errordocs/500.html
ErrorDocument 501 /errordocs/501.html
ErrorDocument 502 /errordocs/502.html
ErrorDocument 503 /errordocs/503.html
If you're creating your
own .htaccess file, open a plain text
editor and add the above lines.
When typing in the information,
make certain you type it exactly as it
appears above. You can include the error
documents of your choice.
Once the file is complete,
save it as .htaccess and upload it to
your server, via FTP in ASCII mode, where
you store your HTML files.
For additional information
on File Transfer Protocol (FTP) you may
If you have a Windows
operating system, you will be unable to
save the file as .htaccess. You'll need
to save it as htaccess.txt. Once you upload
the file to your server, you can rename
it to .htaccess.
That's all there is to
it. When your visitors click on an outdated
link, your custom error page will now
Creating your own custom
error pages is well worth the time and
effort, as they will enable you to recover
an unlimited number of your visitors.
If you follow this step by step guide,
you can have your pages up and running
in no time.