How to show your client the website (but not the entire world)

Show your client the website, but not the entire world

Unless you are starting off with a sexy Design, creating a website from the framework default template looks terrible for a while.

Placeholder images, strange colors and sample widgets are part of the building process, but let’s be honest during that process the website doesn’t look it’s best.  It’s like the construction of a new shiny office building.

The construction site has filthy trucks, piles of wood and metal everywhere, supplies thrown around and a sweaty construction crew doing their thing.

That’s why construction crews put up plastic wrapped fences, so people don’t see all the chaos.

Building a website is no different.

Here’s how to put up those digital-walls, but still allow your client to see the website.


Install These 2 Plugins

By default WordPress isn’t setup to do what we need, so we’ll need to install a pair of plugins.

They are both free and work great, here they are:

  • Under Construction – this plugin stops your site from showing the pages/themes/etc… and instead displays a ‘Coming Soon’ page (which you can customize if you want) to any non-logged in visitor.  This is how we keep the world out.
  • Peter’s Login Redirect – by default when a WP user logs in, they are directed to the admin area, this plugin allows to change that on a user-by-user basis.  This is how we let the client in.

With those two plugins installed, now it’s time to set everything up.


Keeping The World Out

The Under Construction plugin does one thing, and it does it well – it stops anyone who is not a registered user from seeing the website you are building.

We’ll make one exception for your client in just a minute, but here’s how to set up Under Construction.

Setup Under Construction

Once installed and activated go to Settings > Under Construction, like this

The only thing you need to do here is to choose on at the top

then scroll down and click Save Changes.

Simple right?

Once you do that, visit your site in a different browser (a browser that you are not logged in with) and you should see something like this:

No matter what page or post you go to on that site, you won’t see the website you’ll only see that dark screen.

There are more features in this plugin (like being able to add your own content instead of that default message), but let’s leave it like this for now.


Letting Your Client In

Now that we’ve locked everyone out, we need to let one person in… your client.  To do that is pretty easy using Peter’s Login Redirect, just follow these steps:

Setup Peter’s Login Redirect

Make sure you’ve installed and activated the plugin then go to Users > Add New

On the Add New User screen, fill in the Username, Email and Password (leave everything else blank to save some time) and make sure you remember the login information!

Your screen should now look like this:

Now click the Add New User button at the bottom.

If that user now logs in to the WordPress site they will see the default admin area, which for a non-techie might be confusing as to how to get to the front end of the website.

Here’s how to fix that.

Go to Settings > Login/logout redirects, like this:

This is where you can specify the URL that the user gets redirected to when they login.

In the first section named Specify Users, select the username you just setup from the Add drop down menu then enter the URL of the homepage of the site in the URL field then click Add username rule button to save it, like this:

(you can leave Logout URL blank)

Now send your client an email instructing them how to login and see their site.

Here’s a sample email for you to copy:

Hey [NAME],

Your website is coming along great!  I think you’re going to love it!

I just put up an under construction page so nobody will see the website until it is done and you are ready to go live with it.

To see the design at anytime, use the login details below:

Login URL: http://[YOURDOMAIN]/wp-admin
Username: [USERNAME]
Password: [PASSWORD]

Your awesome web designer,
[YOUR NAME]

Now you can build out that website, making sure only you and your client can see it.

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The Site Is Ready, Now What?

Once you are all done, the client approves everything and you are ready to launch the website, there are a few cleanup points left to do.

They are pretty easy and should only take a few minutes to complete:

  • Uninstall both plugins – go to Plugins > Installed Plugins and choose Uninstall for Peter’s Login Redirect and Under Construction as you no longer need those.
  • Delete the sample user – go to Users > All Users, find that username you setup and click Delete as your client should get the super admin login details.

Now it’s time to send the client their login details, get paid and have a fun day [FUN THING GOES HERE].

Wow.  That does sound like fun.

Your friends,
Amy & Ian

PS: If you are building a website for a cat that skateboards, the world needs to see that and you should not under and circumstances put an under construction plugin on a website like that.