Module 3: Checkpoint 3—Removing a resource

Conformance: Mandatory


When a resource is removed, an appropriate HTTP status message must be presented at the disused URL.

Benefits of conformance

  • Consistent, quality experience for users of the site.
  • Increased site credibility and levels of user trust.

Risks of non-conformance

  • Possible increase in offline channel requests for inexplicably removed information.
  • Reduced site credibility and levels of user trust.

Implementation advice


When a resource has been removed/deleted (permanently unavailable) or it is only temporarily unavailable, it is important to avoid presenting the user with the File Not Found (404) status.

In a well-maintained information architecture, the File Not Found (404) status would only be required when the user enters a URL that never existed (example: due to an input error, or a failed URL guess). Even then, you may be able to provide a more helpful response (see Error conditions section in the implementation advice for more discussion).

See the Removing a resource section from the HTTP Status Message Guidelines for further information about how to meet this requirement.