When building a WordPress site, customizing the design, adding themes and plugins, and so on, you will want to show a Coming Soon, Maintenance Mode or Under Construction page. Here’s how.
WordPress automatically shows a Maintenance Mode message and prevents access to the site whenever you update WordPress, install or update a theme or plugin. When the update or installation is complete, maintenance mode automatically ends and the site can be accessed normally.
This happens so quickly, often taking less than a minute, that you probably won’t catch someone’s site in maintenance mode. However, if your site has lots of visitors, or if the maintenance or update takes a long time, you should put up a notice. A site redesign might take several days, so it is good to show a message to visitors.
There is no menu option in WordPress to put the site into maintenance mode, so it is not possible to use the built-in feature yourself. However, it may be an option your web host provides.
Sometimes an error occurs during an update or installation and WordPress enters automatic maintenance mode, displaying a message to anyone that visits, but never exits. If your site is in maintenance mode for more than five minutes, something is wrong.
When WordPress enters maintenance mode, it creates a file called .maintenance in the WordPress folder. Sometimes an error prevents it from being deleted and the site thinks it is permanently under maintenance. If you can access your site with an FTP program or through a file manager in your hosting account, with cpanel for example, you can manually delete the .maintenance file and restore normal WordPress site operation. It is a hidden file, so set the FTP program or file manager to show hidden files.
WordPress maintenance mode is a dull, plain text message that tells people nothing. Even if it could be activated manually, you would not want to use it. There are plugins that make the task easier and provide many more customization features to make it visually exciting, more informative, and add features.
WP Maintenance Mode
WP Maintenance Mode is a popular plugin with 700,000 installs and it is easy to use, but has sufficient features for most people.
All the features and options are organized on five tabs. It is activated and deactivated on the General tab and there are some useful settings. For example, you can select which user roles have access to the back end of WordPress. Admins always have access, but you could add Editor and Author role for example, if there are other people that create content for the site.
You can also define user roles that are allowed to access the site from the front end. Admins always have access, so you can check the site that you are developing or modifying, but you could add more roles, like Editor and Author.
The general public just sees the maintenance mode message. This is a simple text message and it can be customized on the Design tab. It uses a simple text editor with basic formatting options like color, bold, italic, bullets and so on.
The plugin has some useful features, like the option to allow search bots like googlebot to index the website. A countdown timer can be added to the home page, counting down in days, hours and minutes to when the site is expected to go live. Social network links and contact information can be added.
There is even a way to capture email addresses from people that want to be notified when the site goes live. It works like a chatbot with the visitor chatting to the site. It explains that it is down for maintenance and asks if the user wants to be notified when it goes live. Email addresses can be exported as a .csv file. Bulk email services like MailChimp and others can import it.
The maintenance mode page itself is a bit dull, but the chatbot is good and makes the Coming Soon page interactive and interesting for visitors.
Minimal Coming Soon & Maintenance Mode
With the title of this plugin starting with Minimal, you might expect it to be very basic, no frills, rock bottom features, but Minimal Coming Soon & Maintenance Mode is anything but basic and it has a great range of features.
Perhaps the most interesting is the wide range of themes – page designs – that are available, containing different layouts, images, and designs. Only two are available for free, but dozens are available with the paid Pro version of the plugin.
Even though there are only two free themes, they are customizable and the background image and logo image can be replaced. The default title and text can also be replaced with your own, so you could add a message and date at which you expect the site to go live. The size and positioning of page elements can be modified, fonts selected, and the background color can be set. Only two free themes is not much of a limitation when this much customization is available.
An SEO tab in the plugin settings has some useful options and the SEO title and meta description can be defined. There is an option to allow search engines to bypass the Coming Soon page and you can insert Google Analytics code (Pro adds third party tracking like Facebook pixel).
Email addresses can be collected from visitors wanting to be notified when the site goes live and the plugin can be integrated with MailChimp and Zapier.
There are many more features available in the Pro version, but there are sufficient free features for most people’s needs. This is a great Coming Soon and Maintenance Mode plugin for WordPress, although it does try too hard to get you to upgrade to Pro.
SeedProd is the most popular plugin of its type for WordPress and it has over 1 million users. If you install it through WordPress > Plugins > Add new, you get the Lite version and there are several paid upgrades to add more features. However, free may have all you need.
This plugin is unusual in having both a Coming Soon and Maintenance Mode page options. With other plugins, you can title the page as you wish, but this is more than just a title. Choose Coming Soon and your site will be available to search engines, choose Maintenance Mode and search engines are notified that your site is unavailable.
To create a page, you first select from a large number of templates. It is a general landing page creator and Maintenance Mode, Coming Soon, 404, sales, thank you and other templates are available. Three are free in each category: A blank page, simple page, and a visually attractive page.
The reason why SeedProd is so popular is that you get an advanced block-based page designer. You can start with a blank page and design your own landing page or load a template and customize it. The free Lite version has blocks for headings, text, lists, buttons, image, video, columns and a few others. The paid Pro version provides many more blocks, but you can do a lot for free and attractive landing pages are easy to create. You just drag and drop, with no coding needed.
Many connections to other plugins and services are available, most of which require the Pro plugin, but you can add Google Analytics, Rafflepress (giveaways) and WPForms (contact forms) for free.
Each page can have its own SEO information, like the title, description and social media thumbnail image. Scripts can be added to the header, body and footer too.
The templates and page designer are excellent and it is easy to see why this Coming Soon plugin is so popular. However, the free Lite version does not have as many settings as some of the other plugins in free mode.
Maintenance is the simplest of the plugins here and has the least number of features. Most plugins require multiple tabs to show all the features and options, but Maintenance has everything on one page. If you find WordPress plugins complicated, this one could be better for you. However, expert users will prefer one of the others.
All the basic features you need are here and you can set a page title, heading, body text and footer text. The background image can be set for landscape mode (computers) and portrait mode (phones). A logo can be added to the page. There is also an optional login facility.
There are a couple of unusual features and you can add your own CSS code, which could be useful if you want to change the way something looks. Specific pages and posts can be excluded from maintenance mode, which could be useful. For example, you might continue to show about, contact, special offers pages and so on, while the rest of the site is in maintenance mode.
It is not my favorite plugin, but it is the simplest.
CMP – Coming Soon & Maintenance Plugin
CMP – Coming Soon & Maintenance Plugin by NiteoThemes is another great plugin for creating a Coming Soon or Under Maintenance page for your WordPress site. It comes with three free ready-made themes for the page and there are dozens more that can be purchased.
The free themes can be customized, so only three is not much of a limitation. The background can be your own, an Unsplash image, a video, pattern, solid or gradient color. A text or graphic logo can be added to the page, a heading can be added, text and images added and social media icons included in the footer. There is a simple content editor that is like the old classic WordPress editor.
In the settings, maintenance mode can be set for the whole website, just the home page, or you can whitelist (allow maintenance mode) or blacklist (bypass maintenance mode) pages. This is very flexible and it could be useful to allow certain pages, like your contact page while showing maintenance mode for everything else. It is also possible to allow certain user roles to bypass it too.
There are useful SEO features and the title, description and image can be set. Search engines can be allowed or discouraged and you can prevent the page from being cached by services like Facebook (the maintenance page won’t be stored).
This is a good plugin for setting up a Maintenance Mode or Coming Soon page on your WordPress website.