The dreaded maintenance page: it is, as they say, a necessary evil. After all, nobody likes having to put one up, as it sends a signal to both loyal and new visitors that something may be wrong with your site, which can discourage returning users and give the impression of untrustworthiness that you’ve spent lots of time trying to avoid.
But alas, there are times when it’s, well, just absolutely necessary. For while you can do nearly every administrative thing you need to on your WordPress site without ever having to take it down, there are still specific situations when you’ll need to hit the pause button: for instance, when migrating from one server or host to another or fixing a problem caused by an unfortunate hack or malware intrusion. Throwing up a maintenance page is vital in avoiding conflicts, especially if you run an e-commerce or membership-based site and have to be concerned about losing orders or interrupting a user’s session before they can take a positive action.
Keep in mind that, although maintenance pages aren’t a reality to your visitors for long periods of time, they can have an affect on how people perceive your page. Ugly pages can be detrimental, whereas creative pages can be both memorable and actually strengthen your page’s appeal to longtime and new visitors. And fortunately, as unattractive as a maintenance page may seem, there are some easy ways to make one look less unappealing and much more soothing and acceptable. And here are some tips and tricks to do just that.
To start, install and activate the WP Maintenance Page plugin, then visit “Settings, WP Maintenance Mode” to configure your desired settings. Now you can choose a specific design option, add a cool custom message and throw in a background image. But there’s also much more you can do. Read on.
- Keep your message brief and to the point rather than trying to over-explain what’s going on with your site. This creates a sense of calm and gives the impression that this is a planned outage period and nothing to worry about. In other words, keep it short and simple, such as “a bit of necessary maintenance is underway to make this page perfect!” or something similar.
- If you fear your loyal clients will be disappointed or frustrated when they want to visit your page and can’t, be understanding towards them. Acknowledge that this is inconvenient and assure them you’re working incredibly hard to get the site back and up and running asap. And if possible give as specific a time frame as possible as to when your site will once again be live.
- Be funny and entertaining if you can, and throw in a little humor to your page via a cute animation or saucy pun. Indeed, imagery can be great even in lieu of a complex written message, so do a little research and find out what types of pictures other sites are using during their downtimes.
- When possible put design elements on your maintenance page that mimic your actual web pages. This may mean using the same colors, styles, logos etc. This gives visitors a nice seamless experience and quells dismay about the fact that your site is temporarily down.
- Consider adding some sort of countdown timer for when your site will be back up and running. This builds a sense of anticipation among your loyal users. And if you don’t want to use a timer (such as something like an hourglass), then try to at least to give a date and/or time when your site will be back up.
- Lastly, if you have planned a scheduled maintenance period ahead of time, lets your visitors know by sending out a message via your email list. You can also direct them towards a social media link to your site as way of staying informed and in touch, which can help build a strong connection and sense of responsibility between you and them.