For long-term adjustments and updates, you should put your WordPress website in maintenance mode so that visitors do not see an incorrect page. There are a number of plugins for WordPress maintenance mode. I present my favorites in this post.
Why the WordPress maintenance mode makes sense
With major updates or restructuring of a live website, it makes sense to put WordPress into maintenance mode. This allows you to work privately on your WordPress installation without visitors seeing it. Instead of the actual website, logged-out users only see brief information about maintenance.
Sometimes changes just take a little more time, including:
- Changeover to a new plugin
- Change of theme
- Database upgrades
The shop software for my theme shop (Easy Digital Downloads), for example, has restructured the database a few times, for which some scripts had to be run through to migrate all data. That used to take a few hours.
Put WordPress in maintenance mode
WordPress Core has a built-in maintenance mode that is automatically activated with every core, theme and plugin update and deactivated again when the update is completed.
In the event of an update, the theme or plug-in is deactivated and deleted; then reinstalled the current version. The plugin is inactive for a short time and errors would quickly be produced without maintenance mode. These undesirable effects are thus avoided.
Basically, WordPress can also be manually put into maintenance mode of the core. However, this is difficult to activate, has a complicated design and is also active for the backend by default. So rather unsuitable for larger adjustments.
As always, there are a number of plugins with which you can set up a maintenance mode for WordPress yourself. In contrast to the rest of the time, I have two favorites here, both of which have advantages and disadvantages. I am now introducing both plugins.
The simple solution: Maintenance Mode
The Maintenance Mode plugin aims to provide the simplest possible method for the WordPress maintenance mode . It therefore focuses on the essentials and dispenses with many typical features of other plugins such as different styles, countdown timers, e-mail subscriptions or social icons.
The plugin is available for free download in the WordPress plugin directory:
A very simple maintenance mode and “Coming Soon” page that uses standard WordPress markup, with no ads or paid upgrades.
Maintenance mode is particularly attractive because it is very quick and easy to set up by dispensing with unnecessary features and complicated options. To do this, let's take a closer look at the configuration of the plugin.
Activate WordPress maintenance mode
You can find the options for the plugin under Settings → Maintenance Mode in your WordPress backend. There you can activate the maintenance mode with a checkbox and set the HTTP status code .
The status 503 is usually set for the maintenance mode in order to signal that the website is temporarily unavailable. For a longer use of the plug-in as a coming soon page, the status 200 is transmitted, which corresponds to the normal status code for every website in the event of a successful request and availability.
In addition, the plugin provides us with the classic WordPress editor for entering the content of the maintenance page. This allows headings and texts to be quickly formatted and, if desired, images can be inserted without any problems. Any HTML code can be entered via the text view, and shortcodes also work. The content can therefore be designed at will and very flexibly.
The possibility to activate individual widget areas for the WordPress maintenance mode is super implemented. This means that social icons, newsletter subscriptions or contact forms can be added without the plugin having to implement solutions itself. It should be noted, however, that no style sheets and scripts are integrated in maintenance mode, ie the styling of the widgets must be adapted with CSS.
After activating the maintenance mode, logged-out users now receive a corresponding message about the maintenance instead of the actual website.
Maintenance mode is also made easy here by using the wp_die () function from the core for the display. In the case of WordPress errors, such as missing authorizations in the WordPress backend, this is also used, so the design should look familiar to one or the other.
The elegant solution: WP Maintenance Mode
For those who want it a little less Spartan, WP Mainteneance Mode by Designmodo is a good alternative. The plugin offers a lot more features, but is still not overloaded. With a few design options and different modules, it's overall more beginner-friendly.
Put a page in front of your homepage that informs visitors about ongoing maintenance work. Perfect for a «construction site».
I will now also present the second plugin in detail.
Configure WordPress maintenance mode
WP Maintenance Mode offers many more options, but these are organized in several tabs. The settings remain clear and you can quickly find your way around. In the first tab the maintenance mode can be activated and the general functionality of the plugin can be configured.
The actual title and content for the WordPress maintenance mode can be defined under Design. There is also the option of defining the text and background color or uploading a background image.
Basically, you don't have to tweak the design because the standard layout of the plugin is kept very simple and elegant in black and white and is really pretty to look at.
Turn on features for maintenance mode
The additional features are hidden under Modules and Manage Bot. The plugin currently provides six different modules that can be activated as required.
- Countdown timer
- Subscribe / email notification
- Social icons
- contact form
- Google Analytics
The countdown, social icons and the contact form are nice gimmicks, especially if you have the maintenance mode active for a long time, e.g. B. on a Coming Soon Page.
I advise against the built-in feature for email notifications. An external newsletter service is a better idea for this, among other things because of more reliable dispatch, double opt-in and unsubscribe links. The chatbot should be rejected for the same reasons. This leads to a conversation with the website visitor, which also leads to subscribing to the e-mail notification and thus to increase the conversion rate.
Privacy settings for WP Maintenance Mode
WP Maintenance Mode is one of the few maintenance mode plugins that takes data protection requirements into account and has implemented some new functions for the GDPR. These can be found under GDPR.
Further data protection information is necessary if functions such as the contact form or e-mail notification are used, because further personal data of the visitor is recorded and processed. Corresponding checkboxes are displayed for this.
Maintenance mode is especially recommended if you value a quick and simple configuration and can do without bells and whistles. WP Maintenance Mode convinces with a nice and simple design and some practical modules.