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WordPress Maintenance Mode: Everything You Need to Know

Making small changes to your WordPress website doesn’t always interfere with its usual operation, but if your site must undergo major changes, it may have to be taken out of service and become unavailable to visitors for a longer period of time. When this happens, putting your site in maintenance mode can let visitors know about the situation and keep them engaged with your business and your brand while you’re changing themes, installing new plugins, or doing other kinds of work on your site. Having your site ready in maintenance mode is a great way to practice effective website planning and organization. Here’s a look at three ways to put your WordPress site into maintenance mode.

Why Use WordPress Maintenance Mode?

If your site has been up and running for a while, making significant changes, such as a theme switch while it’s live online, can be confusing to visitors who don’t see the pages they expect, or don’t recognize the site with its new appearance and features. Likewise, if visitors try to access the site and encounter only broken links or redirects, it is easy for them to assume the site has crashed or shut down. They may leave and never return, resulting in severe consequences for an online business or professional site.

Putting your WordPress website in maintenance mode during a period of minor or major renovation can reassure visitors the site is still viable and functioning, and keep them updated on the timetable for its return. Whether you’re taking a brief time out for a necessary upgrade or devoting a longer amount of time to do an extensive makeover for your site, WordPress has a variety of tools to alert visitors to the situation and reassure them your site will be back up and running as soon as possible. If you’re either a new user or an experienced coder willing to work with your site’s core code, there is a way to announce your site’s maintenance mode and let visitors know when it will be back to normal again.

Announce Maintenance Mode with Code

For WordPress users with coding experience, it’s possible to put a site into maintenance mode by adding a snippet of code to the site’s functions.php file in the WordPress core. This piece of code, available from the WordPress codex, displays a maintenance mode message whenever a visitor accesses the site. When maintenance is complete, the code snippet can simply be deleted from functions.php and the site returns to normal – but it’s also possible to alert visitors to site maintenance without using code at all.

WordPress Creates Automatic Maintenance Notifications

Many kinds of WordPress maintenance happen on a regular basis and largely go unnoticed. Regular updates to installed plugins and themes can be accomplished in minutes with the click of a mouse, and they usually don’t interrupt the functioning of your site. There are even WordPress Under construction themes that you can use when your site is undergoing maintenance. However, WordPress has a built-in tool to notify visitors who visit while an update is ongoing, a generic message displays when your site’s homepage URL is accessed, saying that the site is briefly unavailable for maintenance. Once the update is complete, the message vanishes and your site is back to running normally.

This automatic notification generated by the WordPress core can’t be customized, though, and it doesn’t offer options for engaging with visitors while maintenance is happening. For longer periods of downtime, you may want to offer your visitors more information about the status of the site and give them ways to stay in touch with you. For those purposes, a variety of WordPress maintenance mode plugins offer attractive splash page displays, personal messaging, and other features to announce your site’s maintenance mode with style. This plugin is offered in a free version and a premium version and they both provide a variety of customization options. This allows you to create the perfect website maintenance page whenever you need it.

Maintenance Mode Plugins Keep Visitors Engaged

If your site won’t be available for a considerable time, you may want to consider installing one of the many free and premium WordPress maintenance mode plugins that add a new page with new features to your site while you’re working on it.

WordPress maintenance mode plugins work similarly to the Under Construction plugins often used by new site owners for display while they’re in the process of building a site, and some plugins offer tools for both. These kinds of plugins typically create a visually appealing Maintenance Mode splash page that displays whenever a user accesses the site and includes numerous features designed to keep visitors informed and engaged with your site while it’s unavailable.

Plugin options, such as the free WP Maintenance Mode plugin from the official WordPress plugin directory, offer users tools such as page display templates, including visually striking full-size splash pages that announce maintenance mode. These tools also offer ways for visitors to interact with the site during its absence, such as email notification of when it’s up and running again, or chat features that allow visitors to ask questions and engage with the site in real time.

Like Under Construction plugins, many Maintenance Mode plugins, including the premium plugin Seed Prod, also include features such as timers for counting down days and hours until maintenance is finished, widgets for making special offers and announcements, and even a mini-blog where site owners can talk about the renovations and keep visitors updated on their progress.

With the interactive tools available in most WordPress Maintenance Mode plugins, site owners can also provide visitors with links to other resources, respond to questions and problems, and even offer “sneak peeks” at the site’s new look. When maintenance is complete, the plugin can be deactivated before the site displays normally to visitors.

Whether you’re installing a new theme, test-driving a new plugin, trying out a new direction for your site, or simply updating an existing element, it’s essential to let visitors know what’s happening. With tools available within WordPress itself, or with the features of its many maintenance mode plugins, you can keep visitors up to date and connected with your brand, even while your WordPress site takes a break for a much needed makeover.
If you need to tell your visitors that you’re undergoing maintenance, the WordPress Maintenance Mode plugin is the perfect way to do it. To learn more about our WordPress hosting or products, please contact our helpful customer service team today.

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