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I have a WOrdPress site that a client wants to go ahead and launch the site while under development onto there live domain and web hosting account. The catch is that they want all visitors to see a fake homepage.

They can then either enter a password on this placeholder homepage or possible detect based on their IP in either case they would instead see the WordPress site that is being developed.

I am thinkig that this is likely fairly easy but was curious as to how others would go about doing it or maybe there is a simple plugin already?

Some ideas I have are to use the .htaccess file and based on IP, redirect them to the placeholder page if there IP is not in a list. Same could be done from the index PHP file. Same idea would also work but using a password which would then set a cookie or session variable.

Just looking for ideas from other on how they would do this and perhaps there is some more clever way out there?

Another idea I just thought of is I have used a plugin before which allows admin users to use a different Theme than a guest user on the WordPress site. With this method, logged in user could see the live under development site and a guest could be shown a theme that does not show any post or pages and has just basic HTML of the content we want to show guest users! I think I really like this idea as it does not require changing any code and when we go live we simply set guest to view the new theme.

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I really don't see the point of "launching" a website that is still in development, only to be seen by the developers and the client. By all definitions, that's not 'launching a website' :)

If the client can accept the fact that the website is still in development and the launch part takes place only after the website is ready and can be seen by everyone, I would recommend to setup a simple landing page on the root domain, continue to develop the website on a sub-domain / folder and protect it by a password (either with htaccess/htpasswd or using a plugin). This setup also prevents the errors and other development issues that might arise (unlikely, but still possible) to be seen by the regular users of the website. It's also very easy to modify the Site URL afterwards so that the new site will replace the root landing page.

And to answer your original question, I would choose the plugin option, for its ease of use.

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