If your website is not available due to some update or unplanned downtime, or you are still building it, you should have a Maintenance / Coming soon page. While these two pages may seem different, they both serve as a placeholder to inform visitors that the website is not available at this time. This is why we will look at both pages as the content you should have on both is very similar.
- Why do you need a Coming soon / Maintenance page?
- How to add such a page
- Best practices
- Wrap up
Why do you need a Coming soon / Maintenance page?
While maintenance pages are not as popular as they used to be, you would rather have one than display some error page. The same is valid for Coming soon pages – you can only benefit from having such a page before your website is launched. We have listed a few advantages of using such pages:
- Inform customers about product launch. If you add a Coming soon page for a new website, or a Maintenance page during the actual launch of a new product/service, you can add some information and if possible, a countdown. The site visitors will know when they should visit your site. They will also be informed what is going on with the site, what changes you are implementing, etc.
- Build up hype. If you start your marketing campaign before your website is launched, people will be curious what the site will be about. If the product/service is mentioned on the page, they will be more likely to check it every now and then. Such a strategy can give your site a great start as you can attract good traffic from the very beginning. You won’t be wasting time and money trying to do the same thing after the website has been launched.
- Build a newsletter mailing list. If you are about to launch a new product, or you perform some maintenance, you can add a subscription box on the page. People may want to receive news about your products, about any future maintenance, or just to be up-to-date with the news from your company. A Coming soon / Maintenance page is a good opportunity to build your newsletter mailing list. Make sure that you don’t ask for unnecessary information. The more details you ask people to provide, the more likely it will be for them to simply ignore your subscription form.
- Avoid losing SEO traffic. If your website is already indexed by search engines and gets decent traffic, adding a Maintenance page is a must. Both visitors and search engines will know that the website is not really down as they will not see an error page. Whatever the underlying reason for the maintenance may be, it is always better if people see an actual page, not an error.
- Minimize support requests. No matter if the maintenance is planned or not, seeing more information about it can reduce significantly the number of support requests that you will receive from customers who wonder what is going on. Without a Maintenance page, people will probably get frustrated that your website does not load or looks broken, so they will try to contact you in one way or another.
- Make sure a migration will go unnoticed. If you change servers or switch hosting providers, your website may go down temporarily or may start opening a default page from one of the servers while the content is fully migrated, or the new DNS records propagate. In such a case, setting up a Maintenance page informing visitors about the migration will be very useful.
- Perform an urgent update. Security vulnerabilities are discovered fairly often, especially in popular applications or themes/plugins for them. You may have to update some component of your website urgently, and the website should not be available temporarily to prevent potential damage or loss of information. You may not have the time to announce the upcoming maintenance or to take any other measures apart from displaying a Maintenance page while you work on the site.
How to add such a page
There are different ways you can set up a Coming soon / Maintenance page. Usually, you can do that through the software you have used to build your website. Here are a few of the options:
The simplest way to add a Maintenance page is to create a file named .maintenance in the site root folder. WordPress will start displaying “Maintenance mode” right away. The same page is displayed while WordPress is being updated. To disable it, simply delete the file. Alternatively, you can use a plugin, such as:
- Under Construction. A simple, yet powerful plugin. You can disable the Coming soon mode automatically at a set date/hour, gather emails, add custom content, and browse tens of different themes for the page.
- LightStart. Create customizable, responsive Coming Soon and Maintenance pages. You can collect emails, add a countdown timer, and even exclude certain URLs from the maintenance.
- CMP – Coming Soon & Maintenance. A free plugin with premium features. A number of different themes are available for the pages, with new themes being released regularly. You can collect emails locally or remotely (MailPoet, MailChimp). You can also set the response code to search engines (200 OK or 503 Maintenance), and use any language you would like, as CMP supports the Polylang translation plugin.
You will find a number of other plugins as well. We cannot list all of them here, so you can check them out in the WordPress repository, or in the dashboard of your website.
If you use our web hosting services, our WordPress Manager will allow you to enable or disable Maintenance mode with a click. If you want to update the content on the site significantly, you can create a staging website, and then replace the live site with it. Discover lots of point-and-click options that will give you full control over your WordPress website even if you are a novice.
- ICDSoft Website Builder. Our tool is very easy to use, and you can enable Maintenance mode with a click if you go to Settings -> General settings. Alternatively, if you want to work on the website, you can simply select Draft mode on the bottom left, so you can make as many changes as needed. If you want to create a Coming soon page, go to Settings -> Add a new subpage, and select the Landing page option. There, you can add any content you need, while you build the rest of the website in Draft mode.
- Joomla. The application comes with a built-in “Site offline” option, which you will find in the administrator area -> System -> Global configuration. You can enable maintenance mode with a click, and you can add a title, custom content and an image to the page. Once you are done with the changes, simply disable the option. Alternatively, you can find extensions that will help you to create a Coming Soon or a Maintenance page, such as n3t Coming Soon and LG Offline Page.
- Online template. You will find lots of templates online on websites such as https://freshdesignweb.com/free-coming-soon-templates/, https://techclient.com/website-under-maintenance-templates/ or https://uicookies.com/under-construction-html5-website-templates/. They usually include placeholders for a short message, a logo and a counter. Some templates also include a subscription form. You can place the template files in the root folder of your domain and customize them using a simple text editor. This option can be used regardless of the software you have used to build your website.
Sometimes adding a very simple page may be enough. For a personal website, for example, you can add (or skip) anything you would like. For a larger website or an online store, however, there are some best practices that you can implement on your Coming soon / Maintenance page as well. Here are five of them, along with a few examples of popular websites:
- Keep it simple. A Coming soon / Maintenance page doesn’t need too much content. Its purpose is to inform customers that the website is not available at the moment, and possibly when it will be up. It may also offer one or a few contact options. Other than that, keep it simple and do not add content whose place is not suitable for such a page. Product offers, long texts, galleries, etc., don’t have a place there.
- Use the same layout as your website. The idea of having a Maintenance page is to let people know that you are working on your website. If they see an error page, they may panic. The same thing can happen if the Maintenance page is very different from your site – people may think that the website has been hacked or that something else has happened. This is why the layout of the Maintenance page should resemble the layout of your site as much as possible. Add your logo and use the same colors and fonts on that page.
- Give your visitors a timeframe. If the site is undergoing maintenance, the site visitors will greatly appreciate it if they see when it will be over. You can add either the exact hour or a countdown timer. The same is valid for a Coming soon page – people cannot keep coming back to the site over and over again to see if it has been launched.
- Be specific. People like honesty. If you know the reason for the maintenance, you can mention it on the page. Whether it is a security measure or a planned update, people will appreciate that you share the information with them, even if some of them don’t understand the technical terms. If the maintenance takes longer than expected, post regular updates. Being open about this matter will only be in your favor.
- Add social media icons. Social media accounts are important for your online presence. Some people may not want to send you an email, but they may want to send you a quick message or to learn more about your brand on social media.
If you are building a website, you need a Coming soon page that will inform people about the site/product launch date and will give them the option to sign up for an email notification and/or for a future newsletter. A countdown timer will also help. This way, you can increase the hype about your brand, and you can build a list of subscribers without spending time and money.
If you want to update your website or some problem has come up, you should add a Maintenance page. Make sure that visitors and search engines do not see an error page, which may make them think the site is down or you are out of business. Add some details about the tasks being performed.
The two pages are quite similar, as they will inform your website visitors what is going on and when your website will be accessible. We have pointed out some advantages of having such pages, and some of the good practices for them, so next time you launch or update a website, make sure that you add the necessary page to it.