FSE Program Custom 404 Page Testing Summary

The fourth call for testing is already underway so join #fse-outreach-experiment in slack and/or subscribe to this Make blog and stay tuned for more. 

This post is a summary of the third call for testing for the experimental FSE outreach program. Thank you to everyone who participated, whether through testing directly or sharing the call for testing with others. It all helps! Special thanks to the following people:

How far can one go in creating a custom 404 page? 

The following is a screenshot of the very fun, custom 404 page that @critterverse made solely using the FSE experience and her amazing design skills. While not all of us have the knack for design that she does, it’s exciting to see what’s possible without touching code:

Image showing a customized 404 page with an arctic theme with penguins, a shipwreck, and an iceberg.

High-Level Feedback

Here’s what a few folks had to say about the overall experience that’s important to keep in mind as you read the rest of this post:

I didn’t encounter anything that was broken, though several aspects of it could be significantly improved. Everything outlined in the 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
seems to work as it should, if users can ever find it. It is going to be a real challenge to make the interface spectacularly simple enough for ordinary users to feel comfortable knowing when and how to create their own template parts.

Sarah Gooding from this WP Tavern article.

In my head, I know that we are inserting blocks to things other than the contents that goes into the 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. editor, but in reality, my instinct still tells me to look for something specific to do things, rather than inserting a block. Mainly I think because you need a time to get used to. But starting to feel that there are no visual feedbacks (e.g. different border colour, diffrent panel colour, different look on the 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. panel) within the editor to distinguish which are the content blocks, and which are FSE specific blocks (like template part block).

@toru in this comment.

To sum it up, most of the difficulties I had during the test are the same ones I still experience when using 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/ pretty much daily. First and foremost, getting often lost without any visual reference over layout structure, hierarchy, or block boundaries. These range from “it’s all white, where am I?” to “what block am I really editing now?”. Also, I still find it rather annoying that when I want to add a new block below an existing one I have to do a bit of treasure hunting to find the exact point where the magic [+] will appear, opening a new world of possibilities, or just the next block.

@piermario in this comment.

The things that were most confusing in early tests are becoming more comfortable. The thing that remains still a little confusing is the plus icons for adding elements. There seems to be a pattern to which types are used and where they are placed, but I have trouble seeing what that pattern is.

@chanthaboune in this comment.

These last two comments underscore a high-level usability item that, if improved in either the block editor or site editor, would make a big difference across the collective experience. For now, I encourage those interested in confusion around the + button to follow or chime in on this relevant and comprehensive GitHub issue.

Repeated Feedback: Improving saving & enable the option to preview

These are two big themes that have been carried over from every single test that’s been done with the Outreach Program resulting in a feature on the High Level Feedback post. To better highlight how they’ve been repeated, they have been merged into this section with only new issues or enhancement requests shared below:

Once the design is saved, there is no confirmation but the button is no longer operable. The interface could communicate this better…Unfortunately, the preview looked nothing like the display on the frontend, but I assume that is still in progress. After trying multiple sources, I found that embeds didn’t work and some of the block styles were off.

Sarah Gooding from this WP Tavern article.

It was a little confusing when it asked if I wanted to save individual parts of my work. I think at that point, I did a little thinking through the experience and landed on “oh this is like changing the slide vs slide template in Keynote”. It’s hard to know how many people will get to that conclusion.

@chanthaboune in this comment.

Template Part Creation Improvements

Because this call for testing required one to remove and then create a new Template Part, this became a focal point for a variety of feedback items. For example, the current experience doesn’t make it clear how to set a name for a new Template Part after one is created causing some testers to create multiple template parts without realizing what was happening. Tied to this, the new Template Part name doesn’t propagate across the rest of the interface after being named making it a particularly confusing experience to know if a part has actually been created. The following issues capture this collective feedback into distinct areas:

Finally, there was general feedback around how it’s necessarily clear that one entering a true context shift as the current experience editing and creating Template Parts is almost too seamless. Making this context switch clear has been flagged during other calls for testing and is being explored in this previously opened issue

The experience of editing a Template Part really does feel a bit like popping the hood, which is something a dramatic context shift could help emphasize even further. The concept of a context shift could eventually be applied to the experience of switching between editing regular content and a Template as well.

@critterverse in this post.

It seemed like you should be able to add a new Template Part in the same way that you can add a new Template, directly from the FSE sidebar.

@critterverse in this post.

When adding a new title I would expect to see some kind of dynamic change so that I see the new name in the toolbar even without updating the design.

@paaljoachim in this comment.

When adding and naming the Template part, I can’t tell if the part has been saved and has the new name as there is no visual sign that a part of the template is there at all. That can be very confusing. I ended up with four Parts of template blocks, all stacked up and pretty much overlapping.

@piermario in this comment.

One aspect of it that could be improved is that new Template Parts don’t save until you click “Update Design.” If you move away from the block and continue other parts of the design, it appears that it hasn’t saved and you may be tempted to create it again, as I was.

Sarah Gooding from this WP Tavern article.

List View enhancements

Thus far, the List View is proving to be a helpful navigation tool for making one’s way around the editor. It’s also proving to be a point of confusion mainly due to missing expected functionality, including the ability to drag & drop and remove items directly from the view. Thankfully, expanding the capabilities of the List view is being explored in this issue already including the ability to drag & drop

The List View was confusing to me, there were Template Parts I thought hadn’t saved properly that suddenly appeared there, they look like duplicates and it didn’t seem possible to delete them.

@lmurillom in this comment.

Quick sidenote about the list view: it would be great if this view had the 3 dots menu for quick actions on items, and if it would allow you to reorder or drag blocks.

@piermario in this comment.

The List view is awesome – so useful for Navigating and visualising. Needs power features including a re-order and delete feature for each block.

@get_dave in this comment.

Navigation Block

Thanks to this test calling for deeper usage of the Navigation Block, there was lots of great feedback gathered around both current pain points and feature requests to make it an even more robust block: 

Some of what was brought up also relates to overall work around improving the Link UIUI UI is an acronym for User Interface - the layout of the page the user interacts with. Think ‘how are they doing that’ and less about what they are doing., which is currently in the process of going through a lovely design iteration

Navigation Block – the two placeholder options don’t look like call to action buttons elsewhere in the UI. I understand they need to be in keeping with the Nav items style but it wasn’t clear they were options without actually reading the text. Could we improve this?

@get_dave in this comment.


This round of feedback uncovered further areas of usability improvements while touching on current known issues including this issue on distinguishing template parts, this issue on how best to create a pattern of interaction for editing template parts in different editing contexts, and this issue discussing how hard it is to tell the difference between what one is editing. With these being known areas to improve, what follows are generally new areas or issues to be aware of:

Now that there are starting to be many possible configurations of toggled sidebar states with the addition of Full Site Editing, I can imagine wanting to revisit some keyboard shortcuts to make the open/closing behavior of all the sidebars possible through similar, easy-to-remember shortcuts.

@critterverse in this post.

I lost track of the Settings sidebar a couple of times when I had been editing Global Styles because the advanced block controls that usually appear in the sidebar weren’t automatically shown when a block was selected.

@critterverse in this post.

The overlap between template parts and reusable blocks might cause users to have trouble differentiating them.

@priethor in this comment.

The “Navigation Toggle” refers to the WordPress icon in the top left corner of the page, but as a new user I would expect that to take me back to the dashboard. The naming doesn’t seem clear and I had to look up what was meant by Navigation Toggle.  

Sarah Gooding from this WP Tavern article.

General enhancements & feature requests 

As with every call for testing, it’s not just for finding bugs! It’s also important to hear about features that people reach for and find are missing. This section is a “catch-all” to cover all additional features that were reported that didn’t nicely correspond with a particular block or categoryCategory The 'category' taxonomy lets you group posts / content together that share a common bond. Categories are pre-defined and broad ranging.

While trying to build something for the test (but also when I currently use Gutenberg ) I often find myself hovering on the block icon several times, in order to double-check what kind of block I’m interacting with. In this case, the tooltip says “change block type or style”, which makes sense, but doesn’t help in immediately identifying a block type. Has there ever been an option for a visible label near blocks?

@piermario in this comment.

I would have expected to be able to save a Template Part independently of the Update Design button (top right). I’ve been conditioned by Gutenberg to see this as the main “update” / “save” button and I’d expect that to save my whole page (including changes to Template Parts). But I’d expect the Template Part to have it’s own “Save” UI.

@get_dave in this comment.

Site Editor Crashing

It’s worth noting that two people ran into a still open bug report that causes the Site Editor to crash when selecting a template part after selecting the navigation block

When I was clicking around the newly saved Template Part, the editor suddenly went white but afterwards I wasn’t able to reproduce.  

@lmurillom in this comment.

#fse-outreach-program, #fse-testing-summary, #full-site-editing, #usability-testing