Wanna know the problem with an “under construction” page? Well, there are several. First, your content (or lack thereof) gets indexed and the cashed version of your page may not be updated for a while. Second, nobody knows how long you’ve been under construction, nor how long you’ll be that way. Third, it leaves a deflated feeling in your visitors when they click a link on your main page.
I recommend using these “coming soon” pages very sparingly. Don’t create a large graphical link to some awesome feature that you’re going to release soon and allow people to click through to an “under construction” note. Just leave the graphic link-free for now. Nonetheless, sometimes an under construction or coming soon (my preferred syntax) page is necessary. When it is, make the most of it.
1. Resist the temptation to reveal too much.
A well-designed page is great, but don’t offer a nice, graphically-intensive header, a full sidebar, and one little line of text announcing that the site will be online soon. Keep your site’s design behind the scenes and use an alternative design that is small and simple so that it doesn’t look empty. Empty buildings are awkward for public speakers as well as the tiny audiences they serve. The same is true on a full page with one tiny little line of text.
2. Make your contact information available.
Often a coming soon page creates questions as to the legitimacy of a site. Is there really anybody working on the construction crew at all? A simple contact form or email address would be a nice addition, just to let someone know you’re truly going to return their call later.
3. Don’t lose the visitor forever – keep in touch.
One of the biggest mistakes is hoping that someone will actually check in again. Do you ever think to go back to the page you visited once for no apparent reason to see if construction is complete? Neither do your site’s visitors. So if you’re using blogging software or a feed service, put the RSS link there so they’ll be notified of your first post. You can also allow the visitors to sign up for an email update, but they probably won’t do it.
4. Be a little bit creative.
Don’t use the lines “This page is under construction” or “our site will be online soon.” Why? because those are not things people say – they are things that signs say, and nobody can relate to a sign. What about, “Wow, you’re here early! We’re flattered but also a bit embarrassed that we’re not quite dressed yet, so let us notify you when we’re ready… just fill out this form…” Doesn’t that feel a bit more human?
5. Provide some simple resource links.
Whatever your niche is, go ahead and capitalize on all the free junk online by offering some helpful links. This is kind of like living on a dead end, and welcoming people to turn around in your driveway. You obviously want to avoid sending people to your competitors, but you could at least suggest some nice options. If nothing else, people may remember you for providing them a good link.
Maybe the whole “under construction” topic doesn’t seem necessary, but I wrote this article after visiting two sites consecutively that offered me the classic lines mentioned above. So I thought I’d throw this “pre-marketing” help your way. More help is coming soon…