FSE Program Testing Call #3: Create a fun & custom 404 page

This is the third call for testing as part of the Full Site Editing Outreach Program. For more information about this experimental program, please review this FAQ for helpful details. To properly join the fun, please head to #fse-outreach-experiment in Make Slack for future testing announcements, helpful posts, and more will be shared there. 

Feature Overview

Have you ever experienced a particularly delightful 404 page? Maybe it made you laugh or it was built in a way that made it super easy to find your way back to where you needed to be on the site. Currently, this is a part of one’s site that can only be altered with code and provided by the theme causing many of us to be unable to add some extra joy into the universe with helpful, fun 404 pages. 

With Full Site Editing though, this is now within our grasps to make our own. This test explores doing exactly that with the option to build a simple 404 page through template editing or to really dive in to make something unique. If you choose to get super creative, please share a screenshot in your comment so we can all marvel at what you’ve made. For inspiration, here’s an example I made:

Image showing a silly 404 page that says, "Oh no! 404. Where'd you go? I miss you so" with some additional emojis and a search field.

Testing Environment 

While there’s more information below to ensure you get everything set up properly, here are the key aspects to have in place with your testing environment: 

  • Use a test site. Do not use a production/live site. You can follow these instructions to set up a local installLocal Install A local install of WordPress is a way to create a staging environment by installing a LAMP or LEMP stack on your local computer. or use a tool like this to set up a development site
  • Use WordPress 5.7 (downloadable here).
  • Use the TT1 Blocks Theme. If you followed the first call for testing, you’ll need to double-check to make sure you’re using this theme!
  • Use GutenbergGutenberg The Gutenberg project is the new Editor Interface for WordPress. The editor improves the process and experience of creating new content, making writing rich content much simpler. It uses ‘blocks’ to add richness rather than shortcodes, custom HTML etc. https://wordpress.org/gutenberg/ 10.1.1 (latest version). 

Testing FlowFlow Flow is the path of screens and interactions taken to accomplish a task. It’s an experience vector. Flow is also a feeling. It’s being unselfconscious and in the zone. Flow is what happens when difficulties are removed and you are freed to pursue an activity without forming intentions. You just do it.
Flow is the actual user experience, in many ways. If you like, you can think of flow as a really comprehensive set of user stories. When you think about user flow, you’re thinking about exactly how a user will perform the tasks allowed by your product.Flow and Context

Here’s a basic flow to follow when testing this specific feature. If anything doesn’t make sense, just comment below!

Important Note: 

While this call for testing is focused on testing a specific feature, you’ll likely find other bugs in the process of testing with such a betaBeta A pre-release of software that is given out to a large group of users to trial under real conditions. Beta versions have gone through alpha testing in-house and are generally fairly close in look, feel and function to the final product; however, design changes often occur as part of the process. feature! Please know any bugs you find are welcome in your report for testing, even if they aren’t directly applicable to the tested feature. 

Setup Instructions: 

  1. Have a test site using WordPress 5.7. It’s important this is not a production/live site. 
  2. Install the TT1 Blocks theme by going to Appearances > Themes > Add New. Once installed, activate the theme. 
  3. Go to the website’s admin.
  4. Install and activate the Gutenberg pluginPlugin A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. WordPress plugins are written in the PHP programming language and integrate seamlessly with WordPress. These can be free in the WordPress.org Plugin Directory https://wordpress.org/plugins/ or can be cost-based plugin from a third-party from Plugins > Add New. If you already have it installed, make sure you are using at least Gutenberg 10.1.1.
  5. You should now see a navigation item titled “Site Editor (beta).” If you don’t see that in your sidebarSidebar A sidebar in WordPress is referred to a widget-ready area used by WordPress themes to display information that is not a part of the main content. It is not always a vertical column on the side. It can be a horizontal rectangle below or above the content area, footer, header, or any where in the theme., you aren’t correctly using the Site Editing experiment. 

Testing Instructions:

Helpful Hint: As you go through this test, you might find the List View helpful while navigating between content.

Exploring the 404 template

  1. Navigate to the “Site Editor (beta)” view. This will automatically open the site editor to the template powering your homepage. 
  2. Open the Navigation Toggle and head to Templates > 404. This will take you to your site’s 404 page template.
  3. Using the List View, select the HeaderHeader The header of your site is typically the first thing people will experience. The masthead or header art located across the top of your page is part of the look and feel of your website. It can influence a visitor’s opinion about your content and you/ your organization’s brand. It may also look different on different screen sizes. Template Part and, using the three-dot toolbar menu, select “Remove BlockBlock Block is the abstract term used to describe units of markup that, composed together, form the content or layout of a webpage using the WordPress editor. The idea combines concepts of what in the past may have achieved with shortcodes, custom HTML, and embed discovery into a single consistent API and user experience.” to delete this.  
  4. From there, select the default Header Block that says “Nothing Here” and, using the three-dot toolbar menu, use the “Insert Before” option to add a block above. 
  5. Using your preferred method to insert a block, insert a Template Part Block and select the “New Template Part” option.
  6. Open the Block Settings for the new Template Part block and, under Advanced > “Title”, add in a custom title. For example, “404 Header”.
  7. When you’re done making the changes you want, select “Update Design” and go through the saving flow to save all changes. This should cause the new Template Part to reflect the title you chose.

Adding navigation and getting creative

  1. From there, make sure your focus is still within the new Template Part and add in a Navigation Block. You can choose whether to create a new menu or re-use a previous one.
  2. Add a few links including a link to a page that doesn’t currently exist. To do this, just start typing a title that doesn’t currently exist on your site. For example, “Help”. You’ll then see an option to create a draft page. Do this for at least one menu item. Remember to have fun with this! 
  3. Outside of the Navigation Block, add any additional blocks you’d like to in this new Template Part. For example, you can use the Social Icons Block, Search Block, Site Title, and more. Try to add anything that would help orient someone who got lost on your site.
  4. From there, edit the “Nothing Found” Header Block and Search Block to whatever you’d like. You can then add in anything you’d like including images, GIFs, etc. 
  5. When you’re done making the changes you want, select “Update Design” and go through the saving flow to save all changes.
  6. View your 404 page on your site by going to yoursiteurl.com/404 (replace yoursiteurl.com with your test site URLURL A specific web address of a website or web page on the Internet, such as a website’s URL www.wordpress.org). Notice that any items you added to the Navigation Block that are page drafts appear but are broken links. You should be able to still view the drafts since you are logged in as an admin. Note: this has been logged as a bug
  7. Return to the Site Editor and open the Navigation Toggle > Dashboard to view your wp-admin dashboard. Note: there’s a current bug that makes it so you can’t view Page Drafts meaning in the future this will be easier. 

Publish, review, and share

  1. Head to Page > All Pages and publish any that need to be. 
  2. Once more, View your 404 page on your site by going to yoursiteurl.com/404 and confirm any prior draft Pages now show up properly with correct permalinks.
  3. Share your experience in the comments below or in GitHub directly. You’re welcome to run through the experience multiple times to capture any additional feedback!

If you want to take this further, here are some extra items to explore:

  • Try adding in columns to your content! Columns are a powerful tool and it would be helpful to get feedback on the experience of using them in a real life scenario with site building.
  • Create a custom footer template part to replicate the process of creating a custom header template part.
  • Deeply customize the appearance of the page with custom colors, font sizes, and more. Here’s a quick video demonstrating some of what you can try.

Testing Video:

This video shows the testing flow after the initial testing setup is in place. Of note, this video purposefully does not go into depth in building out a 404 page in order to keep it concise. Don’t let this stop you from getting creative though when you’re testing!

What to notice:

Remember to share a screenshot of what you created if you’re up for it!

  • Did the experience crash at any point?
  • Did the saving experience work properly? 
  • Did the saving experience make sense when making changes to the Template Part vs the general content? 
  • What did you find particularly confusing or frustrating about the experience?
  • What did you especially enjoy or appreciate about the experience? 
  • Did you find that what you created in the Site Editor matched what you saw when you viewed your 404 page? 
  • Did it work using Keyboard only?
  • Did it work using a screen reader?

Leave Feedback by March 23rd, 2021

Please leave feedback in the comments of this post. If you’d prefer, you’re always welcome to create issues in this GitHub repo directly for Gutenberg and in this GitHub repo for TT1 Blocks. If you leave feedback in GitHubGitHub GitHub is a website that offers online implementation of git repositories that can easily be shared, copied and modified by other developers. Public repositories are free to host, private repositories require a paid subscription. GitHub introduced the concept of the ‘pull request’ where code changes done in branches by contributors can be reviewed and discussed before being merged be the repository owner. https://github.com/, please do still comment below with the link. If you see that someone else has already reported a problem, please still note your experience with it below, as it’ll help give those working on this experience more well-rounded insight into what to improve. 

#core-editor, #fse-outreach-program, #fse-testing-call, #full-site-editing, #gutenberg, #usability-testing