How to correctly setup a "Coming Soon" page during WordPress development

A lot of people like to start with a “coming soon” home page when they hire us to build their site. The problem is that this will reside on the default index page which causes problems when you try to run WordPress from the root directory.

You could put it in a sub-directory, run it from a demo site or a number of other things, but each causes way more work and problems than is necessary.

Here’s how to do it the right way with WordPress…

1. Install WordPress normally in the root directory of the site

2. Create an empty file in your WordPress theme called page-placeholder.php

3. Copy all the code from the current landing page and paste it into the new page-placeholder.php

4. Add this code to the top of page-placeholder.php:

Template Name: Placeholder Page

5. Save and upload the file

6. Login to the WordPress Dashboard and navigate to Write -> Page

7. Give the page a title of “Placeholder”

8. Scroll down to the Advanced Options and find the “Page Template” drop down box. You should see an option called “Placeholder Page” (this corresponds to the code we added to the top of page-placeholder.php)

9. Scroll back up and click “Publish” in the right sidebar (yes, you leave the page content empty)

10. Staying in the WordPress Dashboard, navigate to Settings -> Reading

11. In the top box marked “Front page displays”, click the radio button next to “A static page” and choose “Placeholder” from the “Front page” drop down box

12. Click the “Save Changes” button at the bottom of the page

And your done!

So what are the benefits of using this method?

  • It keeps the entire site working within WordPress. By building the site around an exterior page it only creates more things for you to keep track of and potentially forget
  • Launching the site is as easy as changing the options in step 10. Either select your static Home page or move it back to “Your latest posts”. Either way, it takes just a few seconds to launch the site.
  • If the client decides they want to move the site back out of production for some reason, it’s just as simple

And here’s a couple additional options you may want to use:

  • Hide the site from search engines by logging into the WordPress Dashboard and browsing to Settings -> Privacy and selecting the “I would like to block search engines, but allow normal visitors” option. This will ensure that your pages aren’t picked up by search engines until you are ready.
  • Password protect your pages. In general, this shouldn’t be an issue as it would involve someone first, figuring out you have WordPress installed and second, them guessing your links. However, if there are a few pages that are of sensitive nature you can easily set to password protect in the Advanced Options.

Hope this helps make your next site launch go a little smoother!