What is Maintenance Mode in WordPress?
As you build or maintain any WordPress-powered website, sometimes you need to block access to your site from public view. This is known as putting your site into Maintenance Mode.
There are several reasons for wanting to do this. The two most common reasons are when you’re performing theme or plugin updates, or when you’re building a new site on your live domain and don’t want your visitors to see what you’re up to until you’re ready to officially launch.
Displaying a maintenance mode page can be very simple, but it can also be an opportunity to give your visitors important information about your products or services or also to start your email list building before your site is complete.
WordPress Maintenance Mode Options
In the sections below, we’ll look at the various options for putting your WordPress site into maintenance mode and the benefits and tools for each option.
Built-In Maintenance Mode
Did you know that WordPress has it’s own built-in method for creating and displaying a maintenance message?
Whenever you run a core, theme, or plugin update, WordPress automatically creates a .maintenance file in the root of your installation that contains a simple message to anyone who may be visiting your site at the exact moment your updating.
The message seen is:
Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute.
This gets the job done of course, but what if you know your updates will take awhile or what if you want to do some backend work that requires your site to be unavailable for longer than just a few seconds?
What if you want to continue working on the backend and viewing the front end of your site while still giving your users a maintenance mode message?
That’s where maintenance mode plugins can help.
There are several of these plugins available and they allow you to selectively turn maintenance mode on and off. Below we’ll go through some popular plugins to help you accomplish a better maintenance mode message and design, as well as allowing you to give your visitors something useful.
Free Maintenance Mode Plugins
This plugin is the original and has over 900,000 downloads. Although it does show as outdated in the WordPress plugin repository, it still works exactly as intended and does the job it’s designed for very well.
It comes with some simple options to activate and deactivate maintenance mode, but the design and the requirement to edit HTML to change the maintenance message may deter some users who want a more modern look and more simple point and click editing options.
This plugin has over 1,000,000 downloads and was most recently updated about 6 months ago. It also comes with the extra capability to add your own custom CSS and has some available hooks for users.
This one also comes with several designs to choose from, but I feel they’re also a bit outdated compared to today’s modern design trends. It’s also much more developer-level focused and may not be easy for some users to edit and customize as they wish.
This plugin has over 50,000 downloads and comes with some nice features for both new and experienced WordPress developers. This plugin starts to address the gap between simple maintenance mode and a more feature rich coming soon page.
I find the design templates to more accurately reflect a simple and modern design style and it comes with an email subscribe and social share option.
The downside (for me) is that the email subscription option does not include the ability for integration with 3rd party email marketing services like Aweber, MailChimp or others.
Ultimate Coming Soon Page (premium version also available below)
This plugin has over 622,000 downloads and was updated less than a month ago. It allows you quick and easily set up a coming soon or launch page for your website.
It can do what the plugins above can do, with additional features like collecting emails with Feedburner, integrated Google Fonts, stretch background image to cover the entire browser window, and Multisite and BuddyPress support built-in.
Premium Maintenance Mode Plugin(s)
This is the optional premium version of the Ultimate Coming Soon Page plugin above. Coming Soon Pro is the only paid plugin I recommend, and here’s why.
While researching this article, I came across a few other “coming soon” maintenance mode plugins and after looking at the details of these additional plugins, it became quite clear that they were all near exact copies of the original Ultimate Coming Soon Page and Coming Soon Pro plugins.
I’ve also been using Coming Soon Pro ever since it first became available and I can attest to the quality and commitment of the developer, John Turner from SeedProd.com. This plugin receives feature updates on a regular basis and I know the customer support to be of the highest quality.
This optional paid plugin comes with all the features of the Ultimate Coming Soon Page plugin and includes a slew of additional features.
These features include:
- Works with any WordPress theme
- Visible only to non logged in users
- Secret link for your clients to view the upcoming website without logging in
- Search Engine Optimized with customizable meta tags
- Mobile Ready responsive design and layout
- Maintenance Mode with Automatic Screenshot
- Custom Look & Feel with no coding
- Integrated Google and Typekit fonts
- Full Browser Backgrounds option
- Option to capture first and last name
- Videos can be embedded in the description just be entering the URL
- Display an Incentive after Sign Up
- Social Profiles & Social Sharing Buttons
- MailChimp, AWeber, Get Response, Constant Contact and Campaign Monitor integration
- Gravity Forms integration to collect info from visitors
- Built-in referral system to keep track referrered subscribers and how many of those convert
- Store Emails in the WordPress Database to export to any email service
- Progress bar with automatic completion calculation
- Google Analytics Support
- Automatic Easy Updates
- Shortcode Support
- Option to enable template responsiveness
- Option to control access by IP
- Custom Footer Branding
- Custom Favicon
- Custom CSS Support
- Import/Export Settings for backup or re-use purposes
- Multisite Support
- HTML5 & CSS3 which degrades gracefully for older browsers
- Translation Ready i18n Support
- Option to exclude specific URLs from displaying Coming Soon page
- Plus lots more…
What’s your favorite maintenance mode or coming soon page plugin? Let us know in the comments below.