When you install WordPress on your domain for the first time, your website is immediately live and visible to the public. Before you dive in and start adding content, designing the site, and getting to know WordPress, the first thing you need to do is add a coming soon message.
A coming soon message makes it so that anyone who visits your site will just see one static page, rather than being able to see your whole site. This is important because you never want anyone to be able to see your website before it’s ready, and especially not when it’s brand new and still has WordPress’s standard demo content on it. So, setting up a coming soon message is the first thing you need to do.
You can see a coming soon message that I created in the image below, and you can also see some other samples throughout this post.
How to Add a Coming Soon Message
Some hosting companies may provide a coming soon message on your site by default, but these pages are usually not customizable, or they are difficult to customize. The best way to add a coming soon message that you have control over is by using a plugin.
To add a coming soon message plugin, login to your WordPress dashboard and go to Plugins > Add New. In the search box on the plugins page, type in coming soon page. A few different options will pop up and you can choose whichever one you like, but I prefer Minimal Coming Soon & Maintenance Mode. This plugin has lots of great options and is easy to use. Click Install Now and then click Activate. Wait a few seconds and then once it says that the plugin has been activated go to Settings > Maintenance Mode.
How to Configure Your Coming Soon Message
There are lots of settings you can play around with here. I’ll walk you quickly through the important settings so you can get a coming soon page up and running on your site. Then, once it’s up and running you can always tweak it a little more to make it perfect. I’ve divided the settings by the tab they are under, which you can access by selecting the tabs on the left. Don’t forget to save your changes along the way!
Enable Maintenance Mode: The first thing you want to do is to enable maintenance mode to make the coming soon page active. This will make it so that people see the coming soon page rather than the full website when they visit your domain. Don’t worry though, when you are logged in you will still be able to see the normal site so that you can work on it.
Page Title: Give your page a title for informational purposes. It’s good to just put the name of your business or brand here. This is the title of the page that shows up in the top of your browser.
Show normal website to logged in users: It is important to enable this setting because, like I said, you still want to see the normal site and work on it while regular users see the coming soon page.
Exclude search engines: Enable this setting so that no one can find your site through Google while you are working on it. This is a good idea to turn on for now so that people won’t be disappointed if they find your site through Google and then can’t see any of the content past the coming soon page.
Header Text: Give your page a header like This Site is Under Maintenance.
Secondary Text: Give your page some info like what action users should take and when the site will be live. For example: Melissa Carter Design is launching later this month. In the meantime, please sign up for my newsletter to stay updated!
This plugin makes it so that you can hook up your MailChimp email list and people can subscribe to it while they wait for your website to be live. If you have a mail chimp account, add your API and select the list you want them to subscribe to.
If you don’t have MailChimp, just skip this page. Instead consider giving the users a different action to complete like following you on social media or filling out a survey. You can add this, or any additional text you want to add under the Advanced tab in the HTML section. If you have an email newsletter you want them to subscribe to that isn’t MailChimp, you can embed the signup form there as well.
Under this tab just select your Logo, Favicon, and Background Image. Your favicon is the little icon that shows up in the top bar of your website next to the URL, which should just be a small simple icon or condensed version of your logo. Your background image should be interesting so that the coming soon page is visually appealing.
Lastly, your logo should just be the logo for your blog or business that you will be creating the website for. If you don’t have your branding complete yet then you can just leave these areas blank and use your Header Text under the basic tab to display the name of your business.
If you want there to be a box around your content, enable content overlay. If you don’t, there will be no background overlay and your text will sit right on the background image, so it might be hard to read depending on your image. The overlay background that is there by default is a dark one and there is no option to change this.
If you want the overlay box to be white like mine instead, paste this text into the Custom CSS box under the advanced tab.
If you use this code to make the background box white, you must then go to the design tab and make the header text colour and the secondary text colour black or another dark colour, so it is readable against the white.
To preview the page you must first save your changes. Then either click on the preview tab, or open your website in a different browser where you are not logged in and you will see the page. After that you can play around with colour, text, and page arrangement to make the page look how you want. Below you can see a sample coming soon page that I created for my website, and in the next section you can see some more examples.
Once you have set up the coming soon page you can now take your time setting up the rest of the site without worrying about anyone seeing your work in progress.
This post was originally publishing on March 24, 2016 and has been updated to better serve you!