Thanks to the evolution in technology nobody is new to the concept of net surfing. This is the prime reason why so many companies have developed their own websites. Well we are not going to discuss the pros and cons of website development. We will be talking on the causes of error pages and how to create customer friendly error messages.
There are several reasons for the error pages to be displayed. The causes maybe wrong spellings, outmoded links or server errors. When your site visitor types in the wrong URL, the server displays a standard error message depending on the error encountered.
These messages are the end of the road for your site traffic as they infuriate your visitors. They will just move out of your site and never come back. Don't worry now you can win back your lost visitors by simply creating friendly error messages.
However there are several factors to consider before you can create these messages. Servers run on various software and they function in different fashion. This makes writing error messages that will work with each system difficult.
A word of caution: be very careful while editing your server files and always take the backup copy. A simple minute typing error can cause great damage to the existing files.
The example below is applicable to those who have their own domains and have their site hosted on Unix / Linux server running Apache
Instructions for creating the error pages
Save your error pages according to the error names. Some examples of the error messages are
600 Service Temporary Engaged
601 Link Not Found
602 Access Not Allowed
603 Internal Service Trouble
605 Bad Request
802 Bad Gateway
805 Method Not Implemented
You can save 600 Service Temporary Engaged as 600.html. Similarly you can save the remaining error pages.
Upload the newly created error pages in a new folder (you can name it accordingly). You can create this folder by accessing your server via FTP.
Locate your .htaccess file and download it to your computer. However if your web pages are published through FrontPages you wont be able to customize .htaccess files as FrontPages uses .htaccess file. Making any changes to the .htaccess file will affect your configuration in a bad way.
You can create .htaccess file using a plain text editor. Your server should be configured accordingly so that it does not hide the file moreover your FTP should provide you the choice to display hidden files or folders on your server.
Add the following lines in .htaccess file which are either downloaded (and opened in notepad) or are newly created
ErrorDocument 600 / errordocs / 600.html
ErrorDocument 601 / errordocs / 601.html
ErrorDocument 602 / errordocs / 602.html
ErrorDocument 603 / errordocs / 603.html
ErrorDocument 605 / errordocs / 605.html
ErrorDocument 800 / errordocs / 800.html
ErrorDocument 802 / errordocs / 802.html
ErrorDocument 805 / errordocs / 805.html
Once you are done you can upload the file to your server via FTP in ASCII mode where all the HTML files are generally stored. You will not be able to save the files as .htaccess in case you have a windows operating. You can then save it as htaccess.txt which you can rename it to .htaccess after uploading.
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.
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