At work, we have typically used one of two approaches to keep WordPress-sites-in-development out of the public eye until they’re ready.
- If we’re using WP Engine as the host, we’ll use their standard password protection.
- If not, we’ll use the Password Protected plugin.
However, we’ve got a client right now who’s doing a phased roll-out of sites within a multisite install. So at the moment, one of the sites is public, and one is in development.
Unfortunately, that means neither of our standard approaches work—the WP Engine password-protection is install-wide, and the Password Protected plugin has known conflicts with WP Engine’s caching.
A bit of Googling lead me to this post, the upshot of which is: use the More Privacy Options plugin. I’m not sure this will be the final conclusion (it hasn’t been updated recently) but I’ve installed and tested it, and it seems to do what it’s supposed to do (i.e. the public site is still public, and the development site is hidden behind a login).
Hope this helps future googlers. 🙂