Any user who starts using WordPress will eventually discover its built-in maintenance mode. It is activated for a short periods of time when an update for the system is being installed. This may happen with plugins, themes and especially with WordPress’s core installation. During this maintenance mode the website is not available for the visitors and if the updates are successful it will self-deactivate. And this is basically its whole functionality – to prevent access to a website that may not be working correctly due to incomplete updates and/or configurations.
In this post I will present to you one plugin that will allow you to achieve the same effect but this time under your full control. This means that you can decide when to enable the maintenance mode or to disable it, who to access your website, how it will look like and so on.
This plugin is called WP Maintenance Mode.
Why do I need an additional plugin when WordPress has already a built-in functionality?
You may need WP Maintenance Mode for two reasons. First the default maintenance mode might disable access to the website even for you (if you are its admin) in case the updates are a failure. There is a trick to fix this but I will leave it for another post. The main idea is that this mode will be available only if you are updating your website and not a single second more. Also it looks awful! But since it is on for a couple of seconds (or minutes depending on the speed of the website) this flaw can be ignored.
But it leads us to the second reason why you may need to install and activate WP Maintenance Mode – the control to decide when your website has to be unavailable, for how long and most importantly – how it will look like during this mode.
OK – in what cases I might need to enable a custom maintenance mode?
The most common situation is when you are building (or most likely re-building) your WordPress website directly on your production server. This process may include a complete theme re-design, deactivation of old and no longer needed plugins, installation and configuration of new ones, removal of content or its complete update or redirection and so on. In other words your website may look awful. Things might be misplaced during your tests and configurations. And you don’t want the users to see this mess, right? Also you don’t want to get your site indexed wrong during this period. That is why a custom maintenance mode is the best scenario.
How will WP Maintenance Mode help me in this case?
The most important functionality of this plugin is that it will prevent access to the real content of your website but in the mean time it may keep it live for any visitor or search engine bot. The visitors may learn useful information from the content you provide for your maintenance mode. For example you may add a countdown timer to notify them when the website will be fully accessible. You may also provide them with a details of the update process.
But what is most valuable about using WP Maintenance Mode is that you can grow your e-mail lists with subscribers who may want to be notified when the website is up and running. The plugin allows you to add an e-mail form for this purpose and the gathered email addresses can be exported into a CSV file.
What is also valuable about WP Maintenance Mode is that it will help you popularize your social media profiles during the maintenance period. You can add links to them and encourage visitors to visit them and follow you.
Another extremely important point regarding the functionality of the plugin is that it makes the looks of your website 100% customizable. You can set background image, background colors, texts, etc.
Last but not least – SEO! You can prevent search engine bots to index the real content of the website, while keeping positive SEO ratings since it will still be accessible by them. Also you can still track the visits on your website using Google Analytics.
During the maintenance mode any admin user will be able to access the full content of the website. You can also set specific roles that will be able to access the backend (WordPress dashboard) and frontent of the website. Also you may set redirections to another URL addresses if you don’t want the visitors to land on your homepage during the maintenance mode. You can also exclude URL’s.
How to achieve all of this with WP Maintenance Mode?
Begin by downloading, installing and activating the plugin. Then head to Settings -> WP Maintenance Mode. There you will see 3 tabs.
The General tab allows you to activate or deactivate the plugin’s functionality. There you can also set the instructions for the search engine bots and delegate access rights to specific user roles. There are also the redirection and exclusion settings as well a some other minor options.
The second tab is called Design and there you can add your content and background.
The third tab is called Modules and here you can choose what will be shown on the maintenance page of your website – timer, email form, social media networks, etc. From here you can also export your gathered email addresses and add your Google Analytics tracking code.
Make sure to click Save settings when you are done and don’t forget to deactivate the maintenance mode when the website is ready.
A point of importance regarding the gathering of email addresses. A good idea is to send a confirmation message to the subscribers in order to get their permission to send them further emails. This is also 100% required by the applicable law in specific countries, so make sure that you have this in mind.
And that’s it, friends!
What do you think of WP Maintenance Mode? Will you use it? Any concerns or questions? Feel free to use the comment form below and don’t forget to share this post in social media as well.
See you soon!
*The images are embedded from the WordPress.org page of the plugin