At graphics.coop we do our best to communicate technical concepts in clear, straightforward language. If we use a word that you don’t understand, please do stop us and we’ll do our best to explain. Our you can refer to this handy jargon buster! (If there’s a particular piece of technobabble that’s not on the list below, please tell us using the form on this page, and we’ll add it to the list!)
A 404 error is a common website error message that indicates a webpage cannot be found. It may be produced when a user clicks an outdated (or “broken”) link or when a URL is typed incorrectly in a Web browser’s address field. Some websites display custom 404 error pages, which may look similar to other pages on the site. Other websites simply display the Web server’s default error message text, which typically begins with “Not Found.” Regardless of the appearance, a 404 error means the server is up and running, but the webpage or path to the webpage is not valid.
So why call it a “404 error” instead of simply a “Missing Webpage Error?” The reason is that 404 is an error code produced by the Web server when it cannot find a webpage. This error code is recognized by search engines, which helps prevent search engine crawlers from indexing bad URLs. 404 errors can also be read by Web scripts and website monitoring tools, which can help webmasters locate and fix broken links.
Other common Web server codes are 200, which means a webpage has been found, and 301, which indicates a file has moved to a new location. Like 404 errors, these status messages are not seen directly by users, but they are used by search engines and website monitoring software.
Content-management system. A system which allows you to update the content (text and images) on your website, without having to edit HTML code. Some popular examples are WordPress, Drupal and Joomla.
A small text file which is sent by the web server to your computer, and then sent back to the server each time your browser accesses the website. This enables the server to keep track of preferences you may have set for that website, or to identify who you are if you have logged in on the site.
Cascading Style Sheets