Author Avatar Server Error Messages

by Webnme2 on Mar 21st 2010

Server 404 Error Message

If you are a web developer, knowing how your web server works can make your life easier. For example, if you are using a server with Windows NT as the operating system and Internet Information Server 4.0 as the web server, you can create custom error messages for each site that you host. Instead of giving your customer a generic 404 page not found error message (a sure way to lose visitors) when a link is broken, give them a user-friendly page that includes:

  • Site identification information such as your site’s logo
  • Instructions for how to report a broken link
    • Who to contact and how
    • How to identify the page with a broken link
    • How to describe the link
    • Or even a form to send
  • A site search tool
  • A link to a site map or home page
  • An apology for the inconvenience

You may also want to tailor the error messages to avoid giving useful information to folks intent on cracking your site.

  • Don’t use the standard Apache or Microsoft error message
  • Don’t disclose the type of web server
  • Don’t disclose the system’s OS

Note: Of course this assumes you own or control your server. If you visit http://usscouts.org and type in a bogus address, you’ll see a nifty error message. Try for example http://usscouts.org/oops

For a humorous and engaging collection of 404 messages from the web visit


www.plinko.net/404/


About Webnme2

The author's first experience with computers was with Fortran IV. Wow that's ancient. After graduate school, he taught history for a number of years at a community college before becoming an attorney. In 1997 he changed careers to become a web developer/designer with an interest in all things web related. He currently maintains several dozen websites. This is his personal blog. The opinions expressed are his own.

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