404 errors caused by archived staff profiles

A simple tip today for a common issue. We’ve been doing some work to cut down on the number of 404 page errors that we’re delivering. One of the main causes we’ve found is users trying to access profiles for members of staff that are no longer on our website.

There could be a number of reasons why there is no longer a staff profile – someone might have moved organisations, retired or deceased, for example.

Our previous policy was to put a redirect in place sending the user to the staff list for the relevant department. The drawbacks were that we forgot to do this occasionally and there was nothing to tell the user what had happened.

A new approach

We decided we wanted to

  • make the user explicitly aware that the profile no longer existed
  • provide the user with alternative destinations relevant to their original purpose
  • make it easier for our network of editors to remember and implement the process

There’s plenty of great examples of creative 404 solutions¬†out there, but we decided to keep it simple and informative. All of our expired/archived staff profiles will now redirect to this page:

Screenshot showing default page for archived staff profiles



Web Manager for the College of Arts and Law at the University of Birmingham.

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