When you run a website, you’ll inevitably have maintenance and downtime. This can be server issues or work being done on the site like changing a theme or testing new plugins.
Some developers create sandboxes for testing, but once you go live, it’s good to take down the site for a brief moment. This is also true with new domains where the site isn’t ready to launch, but you want to have something online to show visitors.
The best solution is a good plugin, and thankfully WordPress has tons of them. I’ve curated the eight best choices here each with a different focus and set of resources for webmasters.
I’ve used the Maintenance Mode plugin countless times with great success. It’s probably the oldest plugin with a maintenance feature so it’s got a lot of good reviews and a lot of useful functions.
The whole maintenance page can be edited through a WYSIWYG editor, but it also supports raw code just like the WordPress editor. The plugin is built to be fully responsive and should work on all devices.
But best of all this plugin is totally free with no upsells or premium extras. What you see is what you get, which is a nice surprise considering how many plugins add premium upgrades into your dashboard.
If you want something simple and easy to work with, then start with Maintenance Mode. It’s got years of security behind it, so you know it’ll work right out of the box.
One other alternative is WP Maintenance created By Florent Maillefaud. This one comes with a good amount of extra features like a custom logo upload, extra languages, a countdown timer, and a shortcode area for adding an opt-in field or contact form.
When you shut down your site, you may be doing so for only a few hours. But other times, you’ll be resolving major database/server issues. Or you might not even have a site online yet, and you want to put up a “stay tuned!” message.
With WP Maintenance, you can handle all of these situations with one simple plugin.
The default page layout is extremely simple, but you have control over the HTML/CSS to edit this into whatever you like. If you don’t know how to code, then making big edits will be tough, but if you’re okay with a simple default page, this plugin is all you need.
Coming Soon Page
It’s all pretty standard with a typical “check back soon” message and an optin field for gathering email addresses. The page is fully responsive and built with CSS transitions to create a nice fading animation.
Again, you can edit the code manually, but you’ll need to know your way around HTML. The whole thing is easy to set up with a few clicks and it supports most languages, multi-site setups, and WordPress add-ons like BuddyPress.
Coming Soon by Supsystic
For a more feature-rich default page I like the Coming Soon plugin created by Supsystic. This one has a great drag & drop system so you can rearrange the page to fit your needs easily.
But it also directly connects to most ESPs (email service providers) like MailChimp and Aweber. This lets you plug your newsletter ID directly into the site and immediately get the results you need.
Plus you can add various countdown timers with different styles at the click of a button. Other features include auto-embed videos, social sharing buttons, and custom logos/backgrounds.
By far one of the most feature-rich WordPress plugins for prelaunch, and the free version has more than enough for anyone.
Minimal Coming Soon & Maintenance Mode
Here’s a cool plugin that combines the “sorry we’re closed” message alongside the “opening soon” message. It’s called Minimal Coming Soon & Maintenance Mode created by the team at WebFactory.
This also supports a countdown timer and has a direct connection with MailChimp for easily installing signup forms. You can make changes live from the backend and preview those changes before going live.
And if you have multiple authors/editors who use the site you can set permissions for who sees the initial maintenance page. This way you can define who has access to the site when it’s down, all with the click of a button.
The Under Construction plugin is a great choice if you have frequent downtime to make adjustments to your theme, restore database entries, or just to test minor site changes.
You can easily add your own Analytics tracking ID right into the footer so you can also check traffic stats while the site is down. The page is fully optimized to load as quickly as possible too.
Some of the default templates are surprisingly nice, so you might start with this if you don’t want to (or know how to) restyle a page on your own.
Simplicity is at the core of this plugin, and it’s probably the best choice for web admins who want to set it and forget it. Maintenance is completely free and comes with all the basic stuff you’d want.
The default page uses a fullscreen background photo with an optional countdown timer. This page can also send the 503 error if you want to alert crawlers that your site is currently down.
You won’t find a congested admin panel or dozens of features to dig through. They’re all pretty simple, like changing the background, logo, or header text on the page. Anyone can use this plugin, and I think it’s perfect for non-technical site owners.
IgniteUp is a feature-packed coming soon plugin that supports many pages styles. You can use the “closed for maintenance” page or the timer with a launch date, both separate templates managed directly from the plugin dashboard.
This does have a premium version but the free plugin has four different templates which should be more than enough for small projects. Take a peek at the plugin page for demo links.
Each template is fully responsive and easy to customize with HTML/CSS. And it supports email signup forms if you want to start building your list before launching your site.
With this plugin, you can also whitelist certain user roles, whitelist IPs, send the 503 HTTP message, and tons of other features. This is a bit more complex than the rest, but it’s a multipurpose plugin that can work for any domain.