Blog - Virid: People-Powered eCommerce

Know Your Errors

We've all seen it. You type in a URL in hopes of finding a useful page on the internet and you see Error 404: Page Not Found. No, the internet's not broken. But for many of your customers, that's what it can seem like if your site is not set up to provide a helpful 404 page that points users to other resources. The general rule of thumb for status codes is as follows:

  • 2xx- Successful
    • Generally if the code starts with a 2, the client successfully reached a web page.
  • 3xx- Redirection
    • These codes help update the client's outdated response. Redirects update the client (browser) resources, whether a URL or specific media like images. They tell the client not only where to find something, but when it's still relevant and doesn't have to be freshly sent from the server.
  • 4xx- Client Error
    • This means the request went wrong and the error was made by the client. Usually this is because of a broken or misspelled link.
  • 5xx- Server Error
    • This usually means something went wrong and the error is by the server.

Now that you know the basics, here are some common status codes that you may encounter:

  • 400- Bad Request
    • This error will appear whenever a client sends a request that the server is unable to understand due to invalid syntax.
  • 401- Authorization Required
    • A 401 unathorized error means the page you were trying to access cannot be loaded until you log in with a valid user ID and password.
  • 403- Forbidden
    • This error means that accessing the page you were trying to reach is absolutely forbidden at your permissions level.
  • 404- Not Found 
    • This means that the page you were trying to reach could not be found on the server. It is a client-side error that means either the page has been removed, or that you typed the URL incorrectly. Check out these creative 404 pages for some inspiration.
  • 408- Request Time-Out
    • A 408 error means that a request you sent to the web server took longer than expected, and the request "timed out." These error messages can often be customized for different websites.
  • 410- Gone
    • A 410 error happens when the requested response has been permanently removed. It is similar to a 404, but it is sometimes used in place of a 404 for resources that no longer exist.
  • 500- Internal Server Error
    • This indicates that the server encountered an unexpected condition that prevented it from fulfilling the request. A 500 error is considered a generic "catch-all" response.
  • 502- Bad Gateway
    • A 502 error means one server on the internet received an invalid response from another server. This can happen on any browser, any operating system, and any device. It can also be customized by each website.
  • 503- Service Temporarily Unavailable
    • A 503 error means the website's server is not available right now. This could be because the server is too busy or because there is maintenance being performed on it.
  • 504- Gateway Time-Out
    • A 504 error means one server did not receive a timely response from another server that it was accessing while attempting to load the page or fill another request by the browser.
  • Certificate Error 
    • If you've seen an error message that says something like "There is a problem with this website's security certificate," that's what this is. Security certificate problems could indicate an attempt to intercept data you send to the server.

When performing a mid-year check-in on your site, be sure to check out how your site is handling errors so your customers have a smooth experience and ultimately find what they are looking for.

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Topics: error code, errors, General, UX

Written by Rachel Hobble