One of my favorite tiny additions to the Exhale theme is the ability to create a custom 404 page design. And, the way that Exhale does this is so simple that I don’t know why I haven’t included this feature in themes past.
The 404 error page is what visitors see when they visit a page on your site that doesn’t exist. WordPress has no built-in way for managing this, so theme authors are left to their own devices.
What this means is that 404 pages are often dull and not catered to your individual site. There’s no way for a theme author to truly know what’s important on your site, so they usually do something like show a search form, maybe a recent posts list, and an error message that is often not helpful to your visitors.
The worst outcome for a visitor who hits a 404 error page on your site is for them to close out the tab/window on their browser and move on. You want to retain them and push them to your content, product, or service.
Boring default error messages are not the way to do that.
What Exhale does is allow you to assign a “private” page (one that wouldn’t normally be shown on the front end) as your 404 page. This lets you to fully personalize it.
How to add a custom 404 page
If you visit Appearance > Exhale Settings in your WordPress admin, there’s a “404 Page” setting under the “Reading” section.
You’ll either see a drop-down of private pages or a link to create a new page. It’s important that the page be “private” so that it doesn’t show up elsewhere on your site.
It can be really fun creating a custom 404 page with the WordPress block editor. You can go fun and whimsical or scale it back to something more business appropriate, depending the audience your site caters to.
Once you’ve selected a page, you’re all set. Just go to a random page on your site that doesn’t exist like
yoursite.com/thispagedoesnotexist and see the magic happen.