If you do a quick search for “under construction” on the WordPress.org directory you’re going to find Web Factory ltd’s insanely popular, and smartly named, Under Construction Page plugin right at the top of the list.
Under Construction Page is one of those rare plugins you find that advertises itself as simple and without fuss and then truly delivers on the promise. Once you install the plugin you are presented with a simple to use interface that let’s you built a custom under construction front end for your WordPress site without writing a single line of code.
The feature set is what you would come to expect for a plugin like this. You can set your under construction page’s headline, content and social media links. In addition, the plugin supports disabling the mode based on a user-defined date and time. You can visit the plugin’s page on the directory yourself for a full list of features.
What’s really great about Under Construction Page is the free designs that come packaged with every install. At the time of this post there are 23 designs with more promised in each future update. The designs, a few of which you can see below, share the same graphic style for the most part and are incredibly attractive.
Ivan Jurisic, from Web Factory, was ready and willing to answer some questions I had about the development and marketing of Under Construction Page.
How did the idea for building Under Construction Page come about?
While working for clients and talking to other WordPress users, we realized that it would be much more effective to launch a maintenance/under construction page while fixing things than to leave everything as is and showing visitors a broken site. Since creating such a page from scratch takes time and skill, an average WordPress user just can’t get the maintenance page up and running without some help. On the other hand, a user that knows how to create it would have to invest extra time into building the page instead of doing actual maintenance on the site.
So to help both groups of users, we wanted to create a plugin that would allow anyone to set up an under construction page in just a few clicks. Just at that time, we found out that Under Construction Page plugin was available for purchase. So instead of building a plugin from scratch, we decided to buy it and then tailor it to our needs and likings. That’s something that we are still diligently working on.
I’ve personally been on the lookout for plugins to purchase outright for quite awhile now with no luck. How did you find out that Under Construction Page was initially for sale and what was the purchasing process like?
After we decided to create an under construction page plugin, we started to search for similar ones to see what’s already on the market. We wanted to see what the plugins already had to offer and where we could improve ours once we publish our own. And just by accident, we stumbled upon Under Construction Page among many others and saw a message that it wasn’t supported anymore. So, we contacted the developer to talk more about it and to see if he was ready to sell it. One message after another, we decided to take the offer and purchased the plugin from the original developer.
I’ve just started The Plugin Economy but you are the most popular plugin I’ve taken a look at so far. How did you go about marketing and promoting Under Construction Page to get it to 80,000+ active installs?
For starters, we’ve made a pledge to ourselves that we are about to keep the plugin updated at all times. So, we upload new versions of the plugin two times per month where we introduce bug fixes, add new features when possible and add new themes each time. We believe that plugins should be updated on regular basis, and users also like to get new stuff every now and then.
We also tend to write as much as possible about the plugin through guest and sponsored posts on various blogs about WordPress and blogging in general. When possible, we run Facebook ads to promote the plugin and push it to as many people as possible. We tweet about new updates and try to spread the word through other social media.
If you search for “under construction” on the WordPress.org directory the top results all have tons of installs and great reviews. The market seems incredibly competitive but you find yourself at the top. This is sort of related to my previous question but how do you keep up with your competition?
We are doing all in our power to make the plugin as user-friendly as possible. Instead of giving tons of unnecessary options and features that actually just confuse regular users, we try hard to keep just those that users actually need. So, instead of spending hours on customizing the page, we enabled users to have a personalized maintenance page in a just a few minutes. And I think that’s something most of the users find valuable. Also, we offer some features that competitors offer only in paid version (for example, whitelisting user roles and usernames).
So your plugin is 100% free with no paid extensions or add-ons that I can tell after using it. Are there any long term revenue plans for Under Construction Page or will this always be free for the WordPress community?
Yes, Under Construction Page is completely free at the moment. We are thinking about the possibility to introduce a PRO version which would offer some unique features for paying users. But that’s just an idea and we’re still far away from getting started on building one. The plugin will stay completely free for the next few months for sure. But even if we decide to introduce a PRO version, the free one will still have all the features as it has now and will stay available at the official repository so that anyone have it without paying a cent.
What are the plans for the future of Under Construction Page? More designs? Any new features coming soon?
New designs (themes) are a part of each update. Our designers work hard to create unique images that would look great on maintenance pages, but we are also considering allowing different types of images and photographs. Also, we would like to add the possibility for users to upload their own photos and use them as a theme.
Since currently there are no contact or subscription forms, we are searching for the best way to allow users to add one (drag & drop builder is the option we like the most at the moment). Another feature that we want to introduce is the ability to use 3rd party shortcodes. That would mean that you could use any 3rd party contact form, map, gallery or anything else you want on the maintenance page. And, of course, there are a few unique features that we’re still working on, but it’s still too early to talk about them.