We've all encountered somewhat abrupt HTTP 404 Not found pages when attempting to retrieve resources that don't exist on a particular web server. Whether someone has mistyped an address, clicked a broken link or attempted to access a file that never existed, a default HTTP 404 isn't pretty at the best of times and is generally fairly unhelpful.
The normal process for a web server is to provide responses to requests for resources. A response may contain any kind of resource from a web page to an MP3 file. If the web server knows about the resource that is being requested, it replies with the content of that resource and normally a status code of 200. If however the resource is not found, the server replies with a status code of 404.
Page not found - what now?
Memset has recently added a new feature for CDN customers which allows them to configure a customised HTTP 404 page. Details of how to go about configuring this feature are available in our CDN Control documentation.
This feature allows you to provide a more useful page to users when they attempt to retrieve a resource which, for whatever reason, is not found. A customised 404 page gives you the chance to provide useful information to the user and keep them on your website instead of them heading elsewhere.
There are many opportunities when providing a customised 404 page. You might like to provide a page styled in the same way as your main pages. You may wish to give the user some more information as to why the requested resource hasn't been found. You may wish to show a sitemap or even provide the ability to search your site to help them find what they were looking for. Any of these ideas are more effective than a simple 'Not found' message.