WordPress Maintenance Mode

[WordPress] is a great tool. It has its own way of managing updates to your website - and will switch to maintenance mode automatically.  Sometimes this is called an HTTP Status 503 Service Unavailable.

For the best user experience you can setup your own custom maintenance page - where you can show your brand, making it clear that this is planned maintenance and give your visitor some where else to go.

Get some control - enable WordPress Maintenance Mode the right way.

Earlier this year I wrote about enabling WordPress Maintenance mode and how you can customise this yourself.

Create your own Maintenance Page

As you can already tell - a maintenance page is just a PHP file with HTML. Start your favourite editor (I use Coda) and create a file called maintenance.php.

You need to have a bit of code at the top and the bottom of the page like this -

$protocol = $\_SERVER["SERVER\_PROTOCOL"];
if ( 'HTTP/1.1' != $protocol && 'HTTP/1.0' != $protocol )
$protocol = 'HTTP/1.0';
header( "$protocol 503 Service Unavailable", true, 503 );
header( 'Content-Type: text/html; charset=utf-8' );
<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">
<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">

So this top part does all the smart work for your server and WordPress to generate an Error 503 page.

After that - you can then add some HTML -

<title>503 Service Temporarily Unavailable</title>

<?php die(); ?>

At the end of the document after you close the HTML make sure you have added <?php die(); ?>

Now save your maintenance.php file and upload it to the wp-content directory.

Top tips for Maintenance Pages

  • Embed your CSS styles in the HTML
  • Link to your social networks (Give visitors a destination)
  • Link to your mail list subscribe form (Promote deeper engagement)
  • Make your 503 Http status page visual

If you’d like some help to set this up in WordPress, please consider hiring me and I can add this to your site.

Tags: Maintenance, User Experience, WordPress

Read more from my blog for an introduction and quick tips on developing in Hugo or UCTD.

Meet the author

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Damien Saunders
An experienced management consultant and business leader interested in digital transformation, product centred design and scaled agile. If I'm not writing about living with UCTD (an autoimmune disease), I'm probably listening to music, reading a book or learning more about wine.
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