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How do I redesign a WordPress site without going live?

In the digital age, first impressions matter more than ever. For businesses and individuals alike, a website is often the initial point of contact with potential clients, customers, or readers. But what happens when that digital storefront or personal space begins to feel outdated? Naturally, a redesign comes to mind. However, the challenge arises when considering how to make significant changes without disrupting the day-to-day interactions on the live site.

Redesigning your WordPress site while it’s live can be analogous to renovating a shop while keeping its doors open: things can get messy, and the customer experience might be compromised. Thankfully, the world of WordPress offers solutions that let you transform your site behind the scenes, ensuring that visitors continue to experience the website they’re familiar with until you’re ready to unveil the revamped version.

This guide delves into how you can tactfully handle a WordPress site redesign without going live prematurely, ensuring a seamless transition and preserving the impeccable user experience your audience expects.

Redesigning Behind the Curtains: The Power of Staging and Maintenance Mode

Redesigning a website while ensuring it remains operational for its visitors requires a delicate balance. Here’s how you can achieve it with the help of WordPress plugins and staging environments:

  1. Setting Up a Staging Environment:
    • A staging environment is essentially a clone of your live website. It allows you to test changes without affecting the live site.
    • Plugins like WP Staging and Duplicator help create a staging site with a few clicks. These plugins duplicate your website, enabling you to test redesigns safely.
  2. Going into Maintenance Mode:
    • As you near the completion of your redesign and prepare for the switch, you might want to put your live site into “Maintenance Mode.” This signals to visitors that something new is on the horizon without completely blocking access.
    • Plugins like Coming Soon & Maintenance Mode by Colorlib and WP Maintenance Mode are excellent choices. They allow you to display a “Be Right Back” or “Coming Soon” page while you make final adjustments. These plugins often come with customizable templates, letting you convey your brand message even during the transition.
  3. Advantages of Using Staging and Maintenance Mode:
    • Minimized Disruptions: Visitors won’t encounter broken links or design inconsistencies.
    • Risk Reduction: Test updates, redesign elements, or plugins without jeopardizing your live site.
    • SEO Preservation: Avoid potential SEO issues like duplicate content or accessibility problems.
    • Feedback Loop: Share the staging site with team members or selected users for feedback before going live.
pc showing in the screen under maintenance
Under maintenance mode

Remember, while plugins and staging environments are incredibly helpful, it’s always advisable to keep a recent backup of your website before starting any redesign efforts. This way, you ensure a safety net in case things don’t go as planned.

Why Choose to Redesign Without Going Live: The Advantages

While the technical aspect of redesigning your WordPress website without taking it live is crucial, it’s equally important to understand the benefits of this approach. Here’s why many seasoned developers and website owners prefer this route:

  1. No Bad Impressions:
    • First impressions are vital in the digital world. If a potential customer lands on your website and finds missing images, broken links, or inconsistent layouts, they might never return. Redesigning without going live ensures your visitors always see a polished, professional website.
  2. Constant Availability:
    • The internet operates 24/7. By using maintenance mode or staging, your website remains accessible, even if it’s just a “Coming Soon” page. This continuous presence can be crucial for maintaining SEO rankings and ensuring regular visitors aren’t turned away.
  3. Streamlined Testing:
    • Testing on a staging environment allows you to troubleshoot issues without any time pressure. It provides the luxury to work on problems until they’re fixed, without the urgency to “patch” things up quickly on a live website.
  4. Stress Reduction:
    • Making significant changes can be stressful, especially with the knowledge that real visitors are viewing those changes in real-time. By working behind the scenes, you can redesign at your own pace and without the added pressure.
  5. Flexible Feedback Collection:
    • Gathering feedback before officially launching a redesign can be invaluable. With a staging site, you can share the new design with specific individuals, be it team members, stakeholders, or a select group of users, and gather their thoughts. This controlled feedback can guide last-minute tweaks and ensure the new design resonates with your audience.
  6. Cost-Effective:
    • Fixing problems on a live site can often involve unexpected costs, especially if you need to bring in emergency help. In contrast, handling issues in a controlled, offline environment is generally more predictable and can prevent unforeseen expenses.

In conclusion, the approach of redesigning without going live, empowered by robust WordPress plugins, is more than just a safety net. It’s a strategic decision that offers numerous benefits, from enhanced user experience to cost savings.


Redesigning a WordPress site without going live is not just a precautionary step but a testament to professionalism in the web design and development world. It ensures that visitors and potential clients always encounter your best foot forward – a seamless, well-constructed, and visually appealing website. Employing the right tools, such as effective WordPress plugins, can simplify this process, allowing for a smooth transition from the old design to the new.

If the thought of embarking on this redesign journey feels overwhelming, remember that you don’t have to go it alone. At WPSiteMakers, we understand the intricacies of WordPress redesigns and the importance of maintaining your online presence. Our team is dedicated to creating visually stunning, functional, and user-friendly sites, all tailored to your unique needs. Let us be your partner in taking your website to new heights, without ever missing a beat.

Karim Frikha

Karim Frikha is the lead developer at WpsiteMakers.com, a website dedicated to sharing knowledge and secrets on WordPress-related topics. With over four years of experience in coding and a keen eye on the new AI era, Karim is on a mission to make WordPress adapt to the modern world. He focuses on building optimized and appealing websites that rank well and provide the best services for his clients.

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