WordPress maintenance mode is used temporarily when upgrading core files or plugins. It can also be used when developing your site or making substantial changes that you don’t want your visitors to see. The default page is pretty basic, just a blank page with the following message:
Another problem is that there isn’t an easy way to put your site into maintenance mode. Unlike CMS systems like Joomla, there isn’t a button to turn it on and off built into the WordPress core. The solution is to use a plugin. The WordPress plugin repository currently has 29 plugins for maintenance mode.
Most of the plugins offer a basic and a pro version with the basic version allowing you customization of background, logo, title, message and often social media buttons and a newsletter signup box.
Pro versions add sliders or video for the background, countdown timers and usually let you exclude certain pages from maintenance mode and allow users who are logged in as admins to view the real site.
What Features Do I Need?
I was going to do a short review of each of the plugins here, but they were all so similar, I decided instead to focus on what a site owner needs in a plugin.
First and foremost, the design should be accessible for desktop and mobile devices. Most say they are responsive. Especially check those with countdown times – sometime they look very strange on mobile screens.
I’m personally not a fan of countdown timers – they add stress to development that isn’t needed. However, a lot of people like them and many plugins offer countdown timers for their coming soon pages. Only a few, WP Maintenance Mode being one, offer it as part of the basic package. For many packages you’ll need to pay for the pro version to get it.
Email Signup Boxes
A few plugins offer integration with services such as MailChimp to put an email signup box on the WordPress maintenance mode / coming soon page. This is a must-have and a great way to capture emails of many people who ordinarily don’t sign up for newsletters.
None of the plugins I viewed allow you do only show the Maintenance/Coming soon page for certain pages. For example, say I’m adding a new section to my site it would be useful to have the pages in that section display a coming soon page instead of the actual pages. I could add the links to navigation and other pages and then release the section when it is ready to go.
Have you used a WordPress Maintenance Mode or Coming Soon plugin? Which did you use? What features would you like to see?