How to make WordPress private while working on it

11th June 2019

UK WordPress Support How To Make WordPress Private

When owning a website for some time, there might be occasions where you might need to execute several maintenance tasks. You will then probably be asking how to make WordPress private.

In the early days, it isn’t likely to be an issue when the public cannot access your site. However, when your site becomes more popular, the traffic will grow, and its management will be harder.

Therefore, the best solution involves turning it off or disabling it temporarily when you need to make some changes or perform maintenance. You would not want people to visit a broken website or a blank page that does not tell them what is happening.

You have many options when it comes to disabling your website temporarily. The method that most webmasters use requires plugins. You have a large number of plugins to choose from when working on a WordPress site. The main focus here is to use a plugin that essentially turns on maintenance mode.

Situations that necessitate the disabling of a WordPress website

As we have said, regular WordPress maintenance might require the disabling of your WordPress website or make it private. However, some other situations might influence you to disable the site.

And if you are conversant with the disabling procedure, you might be able to do that easily. Here are some of the other circumstances that force people to make their websites private.

  • If your website is already hacked and you want to shut out any more threats.
  • If the site is hacked and you want all the visitors to see a private or blank page instead of the security problem.
  • You need more time to improve the website, and you want your customers to see a maintenance screen or a coming soon website page instead of half-completed pages.
  • You want to focus on some other tasks, but you would like to come back to the website from time to time. Therefore, there will be no need of deleting it entirely.

Maintenance vs under construction websites

A big difference exists between a website that is under construction and one that is undergoing maintenance.

Maintenance means that your existing site is temporarily unavailable and a website labelled as coming soon is one that is under construction, and the developers are likely to launch it later. Apart from the visitors, the search engines also like to know that a website is under construction or undergoing maintenance.

After setting up the maintenance mode properly, search engines will start getting HTTP response error code 503. That should tell them that your site is unavailable temporary and they will start crawling it later.

If the site is under maintenance, you can build an Under Construction page featuring the countdown timer, a newsletter form, social media buttons and a properly designed layout.

After creating the Under Construction Page as any other, the search engines will get an HTTP response error code 200, like any other page. The search engines will index it, and Google will recommend it.

If you set it with HTTP response code error 503, all search engines will start crawling it later, and they will not index it. You can set up an Under Construction or Maintenance Page in various ways. If you have coding skills, you do not need a plugin. However, most people rely on the available plugins.

How To Make WordPress Private With A WordPress Theme

Some WordPress themes can include a built-in Under construction or an Under Maintenance Page option. A quick example, Total WordPress theme provides the users with an option to design a custom under construction pages or coming soon pages with the Visual Composer builder.

With Total, you just need to create a new webpage and add any module that you would want to display such as newsletter, social links, contact form, and media feeds.

After that, navigate to the Theme Panel > Under construction from your WordPress dashboard. From there, enable the Under Construction feature by checking the box and selecting the page you just created. Save the settings.

To remove the page after your site is ready for the big reveal, you just need to uncheck the Enable option and save the changes. The closed for maintenance will have ended, and your site will not be private anymore. Total allows easier switching back and forth as needs arise when running a website.

Getting fancy with the Maintenance and Under Construction Page
The quick method above has many benefits, primarily allowing you to disable your WordPress website and reactivating easily, but it is not as effective as a real coming soon page or a maintenance mode page.

To benefit from more features, you will definitely need a plugin. Here are some of the useful WordPress plugins to use, particularly if your website is not built on the Total WordPress theme.

SeedProd Plugin

WordPress Coming Soon Page

SeedProd is among the premium plugins on WordPress that comes with guaranteed support and many beautiful designs. The first thing you will have to do is install the SeedProd plugin and activate it. After activation, go to Settings and proceed to the Coming Soon Pro page for set up.

From there, you will be able to create the maintenance or coming soon mode page. After that, you will have to choose the status. Select the “Enable Coming Soon Mode” or the “Enable Maintenance Mode” option. The plugin also offers you the chance to select the redirect mode that allows users to redirect their website visitors to other websites.

After selecting the maintenance or the coming soon mode, you just need to click on the “Save All Changes” button. Click on the “Edit Coming Soon/Maintenance Page” button. That will open the theme customizer.

You will have beautiful templates that will help you customize the coming soon or maintenance page. Select a theme, and the plugin will display all the customization options.

From this point, you can add a logo, the background, your email subscription form, change the content, and add the countdown timer, social sharing buttons and the progress bar. SeedProd supports most of the standard email marketing services. Therefore, after selecting your email marketing services provider from the offered list, the setting of a signup form will be easy.

If you are satisfied with all the changes you have made, click on the save changes button. The maintenance mode remains visible to the users who log in to your website. You can visit the site in the new incognito browser to preview the maintenance mode in action.

By default, the plugin will display a maintenance mode page to every visitor who is logged in. The other users will have to log in and continue browsing generally on the website. However, if you run an online store or membership website, then your logged-in users will include customers and subscribers.

To select the people who can access the website during the maintenance, go to Settings and Select the Coming Soon Pro page. Now, move to the Access Control section and choose one method to bypass the maintenance mode. Enter the secret key to use as the password with our website URL. Save the changes. The plugin allows hiding of only the page you are maintaining.

WP Maintenance Mode Plugin

WordPress Maintenance Mode

After installing the WP Maintenance Mode plugin, you will have to activate it. After that, go to Settings > WP Maintenance Mode and configure the settings. The plugin has a setting screen that is made up of five tabs. By default, the screen displays the General options.

The first option under the General options tab is the Status option, which will be “Deactivated”. To put your website in maintenance mode, you will have to change it to “Activated”.

For search engines to see your site during the maintenance, you will have to change the “Bypass for Search Bots” option to “Yes.” If your site is already established, you have to do that. The WP Maintenance Mode will allow you to access the website during the maintenance.

In other words, you will see your site working and easily login to your dashboard. The plugin will enable users to specify the user roles the visitors can access, from either the backend or front end. By default, the settings will be Administrator only.

The WP Maintenance Mode will help you create beautiful landing pages that the visitors will see. To make a splash page, click on your Design tab and proceed to the settings page of the plugin. Create the title, the heading and the content to display on the maintenance page.

When creating a coming soon page, you will be able to change your content appropriately. After that, choose the colour of text and the type of background. The plugin offers you the chance to select a pre-defined image, background colour or upload a good-looking background image. After doing that, click on save.

If your goal is to put the WordPress site in coming soon mode, or you want the visitors to know that the site is undergoing maintenance, you can include a countdown timer module, which the plugin offers.

To set it up, go to the Modules tab on the settings page. From there, select the start date and enter the remaining time. You will have the option of notifying the users when the site is back through their email addresses. Include the social media buttons and save.


Knowing how to make WordPress private is very handy. You can use one of the above methods to change your WordPress website to private mode while working on it.

That way, you will tell the search engines that the site is temporarily down and it will be back after a short time. That way, they will not crawl it. Failure to maintain the maintenance mode in the right way will lead to the webpages returning a 404-not-found error to the search bots.

The 404 protocol tells the search engines that your webpages are either lost or removed. They will, therefore, remove the pages and may not re-index them.

Gavin Pedley

Gavin Pedley

Gavin is the guy behind the award-winning ThriveWP. He has over 18 years of experience creating, developing, hosting and managing WordPress websites.

Gavin regularly shares his expertise via the ThriveWP blog and Youtube channel, where he creates informative and helpful WordPress tutorial videos.

Connect with Gavin on FacebookLinkedin or Twitter.

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