What to do when your website is under maintenance
Learn how to prepare your clients for upcoming downtime and make the most of it.
Avoid website downtime by switching to B12
Scheduling website maintenance can be important for revamping your website layout, making crucial bug fixes, and updating plugins for your site. Still, you might be concerned about leaving a ‘website is under maintenance’ page on your site, especially if you have a popular website that generates a lot of traffic from search engines.
Fortunately, you can add a maintenance page on your website that helps your visitors know why your site is experiencing some downtime. In this article, we’ll share the best practices for website maintenance to follow when you’re having technical problems or upgrading your live site.
What to do when your website is under maintenance
1. Send an email
Over-communicating is such an important step when you have scheduled maintenance coming up. Sending an email to your entire list will help customers and website visitors understand when the site will be down.
You might also want to use an email to share what you’ll be maintaining on your website. Maybe you’re revamping the site to make it more user-friendly, fixing bugs, or adding a few new features. You can build excitement for your maintenance mode status, so that people look forward to seeing something cool come out of this next update. Keeping users updated throughout the process will help prevent frustration for customers. So, be sure to include a link to a maintenance page where you’ll leave status updates to help people know how the updates are going. Email your clients about maintenance at least two weeks in advance, especially if you plan for the entire live site to be offline.
2. Update social media bios
In addition to making a post on your social media channels about the planned maintenance, you can also add a note to your social media bios, informing users “Site is temporarily unavailable for scheduled maintenance. New update coming soon.”
Sharing helpful content regarding the maintenance mode status of your site will help prevent customer complaints. Be sure to also include that customers can still contact you via social media if they need anything at this time.
3. Add a maintenance page to your website
If you have a WordPress site, there is a plugin called WP maintenance mode that you can add when undergoing WordPress maintenance for your site. However, if your site is hosted on another platform, you can typically find a maintenance plugin in the platform’s app store.
Alternatively, if you’ve built your website yourself, you can create a maintenance page that details everything a customer needs to know about the scheduled maintenance for your site. On your maintenance page, keep your message simple, compassionate, and informative. Understand that some people may be frustrated that your site is down, especially if they’re trying to reach someone. Work with a copywriter to craft quality content for the maintenance page to prevent negative reviews or customer complaints from the site being temporarily unavailable.
4. Highlight what’s coming
Having your site offline is a big deal, so give people something to look forward to. If possible, plan a big update around your maintenance mode status, if it makes sense. A new color scheme that’s easier on the eyes, improved website functionality, or any software update for repairs are the most common reasons to have website downtime. Avoid a bad experience by using this time to upgrade your website as much as you can.
If you’re going to have an offline website, make sure that your business improves after it. For example, if there is a major bug to fix that will improve the customer experience, let clients know it’s coming. If you’re rolling out a new theme, let them know about the new and improved design coming soon for better functionality.
5. Add a countdown timer
Once your website is under maintenance, consider adding a countdown timer on the maintenance mode page. Most of the time, scheduled maintenance timelines are known in advance and set by the development team working on the project, so you’ll likely have an idea about the end time.
Counting down to completion will give customers and website visitors an exact time when they can come back to your site and catch up. Plus, it can build some excitement for your site and its new launch. So, include a countdown timer on your maintenance pages to create a better user experience for customers and to delight them with how fast an updated site is coming.
6. Allow visitors to access certain pages
While visitors won’t have access to the staging site to see what’s being built, you might want to offer some access controls to let customers explore your site instead of going to other websites like your competitors’.
Think about the key pages your visitors will likely want to see. For example, if you get a lot of traffic from Google, you might want to keep the web service for your blog up and running. You may also want to keep a company contact page up, in case someone wants to reach out to your customer support team. Alternatively, having your most profitable page up and running could also be helpful to continue generating sales despite maintenance service on your site. As long as the problem isn’t your server, you should be able to allow access to a few online web pages.
7. Showcase your brand’s personality
Adding a custom maintenance page can create some buzzworthy news around your website. Just because your site is experiencing some downtime doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun with your visitors. You can inject your brand’s personality in a ton of ways.
For example, including some clever copy or gamifying your maintenance page can entertain visitors while they wait for your update. If your website is a financial services company, listing an FAQ of the most common questions your team gets asked might help solve their burning problems. Meanwhile, if you have a law firm website, the tone may be more serious and include a phone number and email address to reach to connect with a lawyer at your firm.
8. Add a call to action
Website maintenance doesn’t need to interfere with your company’s goals — you can still work to achieve them. You can include a call to action on your maintenance page to help drive people to sign-up for your product, book a meeting, or purchase a best-selling product. A maintenance page needs to have a call to action, so you can still generate revenue despite the maintenance mode.
Search engines don’t stop sending traffic over when you’re doing website maintenance, so having a page that still connects people to your product offering will help your business’s bottom line. The only time a call to action wouldn’t work would be if your web server is down, but if this website maintenance is planned ahead, you can ensure it’s working with help from platform experts like the ones at B12.
9. Connect people to support for emergencies
Putting your website in maintenance mode can be disruptive for your clients. If your maintenance plugin allows this, you can add an email address and phone number to allow customers to contact you. If you’re not using WordPress maintenance mode, or if you’ve customized your page altogether, you might even go a step beyond to add a live chat button.
After all, if the site is experiencing downtime, it’s only natural that customers who are frustrated will want to chat now, rather than wait two days for an email response. So, consider coding your maintenance pages to allow customers to chat with support in real-time for a positive response.
10. Share a video
While everyone awaits for the staging site to go live, share a video with details about the maintenance on your maintenance page. You can embed a YouTube video from your channel to make coding the video easy. Share your thoughts on this next site update to get people excited about what’s to come.
Alternatively, you might add educational or promotional videos to your maintenance mode page while people wait to learn more about your brand. Since your search rankings won’t be affected by it, you’ll still generate site traffic, so you can use this period of downtime to promote your social media content when you have an offline site.
Have experts help with your website maintenance
With B12, a team of web design experts can help you revamp or redesign your website with little-to-no downtime. After all, you went into business to serve customers, not to tackle lengthy website design and redesign projects. We’ll ensure your website project is handled efficiently, so it’s available to the people who are interested in learning more about your services.
When your updated site is ready to be published, you’ll have a new-and-improved web presence that does a better job of serving visitors and clients and making your business look professional online.
Maintenance mode is temporary
While putting your site on maintenance mode is temporary, it can be temporarily disruptive to your customers. A strategic maintenance page can keep visitors engaged and increase the chances that they’ll return to check out your updated website. In the end, you’ll be happy you didn’t put off your website maintenance and improved the look and feel of your online presence.