How to Widgetize Your WordPress / BuddyPress 404 Page in 2 Simple Steps

Ever wanted to customize your 404 template to keep your users interested even after stumbling upon an error page? This tutorial is the ticket to transforming a boring old 404 page into a custom template that will enhance your site. You’ll be able to take any widgetized content and drop it into your 404 page.

Why would you want to widgetize the 404 page? There are lots of reasons why this can be beneficial to your website:

Benefits of a Custom 404 Page:

  • SEO – Your 404 page doesn’t need to be a dead, boring error page. You can fully optimize this error page in any way you want to.
  • Keep your visitors engaged with recent posts, current forum topics, member groups, or any other community-specific widget.
  • Create an experience that will draw new members to your fold.
  • Embrace the opportunity to brand – error pages are a great way to set yourself apart with a clever, branded message, i.e. the “Fail Whale”. Don’t let any part of your site go out of character, even when notifying the user of an error.

Widgetizing your 404 page is so simple. You can copy and paste and do it in under two minutes.

Step 1: Register the 404 Widget Area in Functions.php

{code type=php}
register_sidebar( array(
‘name’ => ‘404’,
‘id’ => ‘404’,
‘before_widget’ => ‘

‘,
‘after_widget’ => ‘

‘,
‘before_title’ => ‘

‘,
‘after_title’ => ‘


) );
{/code}

Step 2: Add the 404 Widget Tag to 404.php

{code type=php}
<?php dynamic_sidebar( ‘404’ ); ?>
{/code}
Now you’re finished! So easy, wasn’t it? You can start dragging and dropping widgets into your new 404 widgetized area and they will show up when your visitors stumble upon the wrong page. Check out the simple, customized 404 page below. It may not be the most unique 404 page you’ve ever seen but it optimizes the content and promotes the community far better than the standard error message. You’ll be able to use any of the WordPress or BuddyPress widgets available to you when you create the error page. Give your 404 page a boost and keep the attention of your first time visitors with a custom message.