When Your Website Has to Be Temporarily Switched Off
There are times when you must temporarily switch off your WordPress site. For example, if you have just started to build the site on a live server, it doesn’t make sense to show the progress to the public before the launch. And when your beautiful site is finally ready, sometimes you just might want to quickly test some new feature or fix some issues. In such cases, you should activate maintenance mode.
Out of the box, there is no quick and automatic way to put your WordPress site into maintenance mode. Yes, when you’re using the automatic plugin/theme updater, maintenance mode will be switched on and deactivated by WordPress automatically. If you’re a power user, you may also create a .maintenance file in the root directory or edit the functions.php file. However, the simplest and most convenient way to activate maintenance mode is doing it with a dedicated maintenance mode plugin.
There are many such plugins in the WordPress repository, and because it is such a useful function, some of these plugins are very popular. They often offer a possibility to upload a background image, set up your custom message and configure the font and colours. Some maintenance mode plugins offer more fancy features, as well.
To my mind, however, the point of a website is not being in maintenance mode for long periods, so fancy features in maintenance mode plugins are not important to me. What I need from a maintenance mode plugin is convenience: the ability to quickly switch on and off maintenance mode. Of course, a custom background image and text are important, too, but this is probably a feature of most, if not all, maintenance mode plugins.
As I wrote before, there are lots of maintenance mode plugins for WordPress. I have been using this one as long as I can remember, probably since I switched from Drupal to WP in 2013. It is named simply “Maintenance” and it is developed by a team calling themselves “fruitfulcode”.
What I like most about it is the convenience. It displays its status in the administrator top bar: “Maintenance is Off” or “Maintenance is On”. Clicking on the status message allows you to change it. Simple and quick. No need to search for the right plugin in the plugin list or scroll through all the settings in the left bar:
Setting up the maintenance mode screen is very easy:
Customizing the screen with your own colours and fonts is also very simple:
If that is not enough, you can also quickly add your custom CSS code.
If you need it for some reason, you can even exclude specified posts, pages and custom posts from maintenance mode (these items will be visible to visitors). There is a premium (paid) version of this plugin with additional functions, but the free version should be sufficient for most users.
I briefly tested also another maintenance mode plugin. It had more features than this one but I found the interface less convenient and I ended up deleting it. “Maintenance” by Fruitfulcode has served me well for years. It does one thing, but it does this thing well. Yes, a maintenance plugin is not rocket science maybe, but it surely does make my life as a webmaster a little easier and saves my time. There are certainly other good maintenance mode plugins for WordPress, but this is the one that I am using and it is good enough for me. To recognize the good work done by its developers, I curate this plugin and award it the title of “WordPress Plugin of the Month”.