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This might be a no-brainer but I can't decide whether the 404 error page should link back to the page, from which the user has come, or should it direct to the main page where the user can navigate to any part of the site? Making links to previous pages is really hard to implement since I will need to incorporate some sort of session cookie or something to track the previous URL.

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Actually, you can simply add the parameter onClick="history.back()" to the link on the 404 page to go back. – dnbrv Feb 24 '12 at 22:54
Had you searched for 404 error before posting the question, you would've found this question: "What image and message use in the "Not found" page (404 error page)". – dnbrv Feb 24 '12 at 22:56
Thats good point but will that JavaScript work with https pages,just wondering. – Mervin Johnsingh Feb 24 '12 at 22:56
@dnbrv I did see that question but I felt my question was different since I was talking about the navigation and rerouting – Mervin Johnsingh Feb 24 '12 at 22:57
Navigation & routing of error pages is still content. Besides, if the question isn't worded exactly the same, the answer to that question is rather extensive. – dnbrv Feb 24 '12 at 22:59
up vote 7 down vote accepted

Well I think I just found the answer to my own question but I'll be glad to listen to other inputs too ,I believe having a sitemap of the various links on the site would help or atleast a sitemap of the main pages on the site (if the site is too large to have a full fledged sitemap on the 404 page)

Heinz ketchup does this really well

Direct link here

Direct Link here

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+1 for the research; one more for finding a good answer. – Kris Feb 25 '12 at 9:41

My dream 404 page would be one with a search field in it, so that I could just type in what I was trying to get to.

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Also, it wouldn't have the words "Error 404" anywhere on it. It would have something more human-friendly like "page not found". – Andrew Bacon Feb 24 '12 at 22:08

Assume that a user is as likely to land on a 404 page from a search engine as they are from a page on your site (more likely, actually). That being the case, the most logical place to take them is the home page. (You might also take them to a search page, but only if you think that's a better experience.)

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