Most people are under time constraints — they have lots going on and not enough time to do everything. So things sneak up on them and then need to be done in a hurry. We’ve all been there. But what are you to do when you need a web presence ASAP, but don’t have the time to plan and implement the whole site before your deadline? Create a page that has the critical details on it and then plan out the rest of your site knowing that your web presence, while minimal, is still working for you.
Do not settle for an old school “under construction” page, or for the domain parking page that your registrar puts up there to make money off of you while you get your site underway. The page you create should have some basic, but critical information on it.
Here’s what I mean… lets say you’re an author creating a book website: You’ve been focused on getting the cover design just right, and the final touches to the content… the galleys are about to go out with your web address printed on them, and there’s no way your website will be finished in time. But there are some basic things that you already have:
- You have your cover design. So even if you don’t know what the overall look & feel of your website will/should be, you can work with the aesthetic that’s been established by the cover art. And you don’t need design too much at this point — just keep it super clean and simple and it won’t matter if after you launch the site it looks quite different.
- You have your contact information. You want to make it easy for people to get in touch with you about your project. Include at least an email address here. If you’re already using social media for self promotion, include a link to your Twitter and Facebook pages, or widgets that show the latest content from your feed and allow people to friend you. If you have a blog, you can place a small feed of your blog’s content right there on the page, and a link to subscribe.
- You know what your project is about. A short synopsis to help people know they’re in the right place and to leave them intrigued is very helpful. After all, you want them to come back after the site fully launches – so leave them wanting more. Some people have an email signup so that interested parties can be notified when things change, or they can receive a newsletter with updates — this is a great way to stay in touch with people who you can then encourage to come back and see the site after the launch.
If you plan to build your site in WordPress (my CMS platform of choice), there are even free themes or plugins that make having a “Coming Soon” page super easy:
- http://wparchive.com/ice-breaker-wordpress-theme/ — has slightly more functionality than Changing Room (above).
- http://themeshaper.com/wordpress-domain-parking-theme/ — sells itself as an alternative to Domain Parking by your registrar.
- http://sw-guide.de/wordpress/plugins/maintenance-mode/ — this is a plugin that allows you to create a custom page to display while you’re working on your site. It’s great because site admins (if logged in) can see the site-in-progress, but regular site visitors see the holding page. Also, should you ever need to work on your site in the future, going back to it is just the flip of a switch. I like this best because you can customize the page completely.
If you don’t plan to use WordPress, you or your web designer can easily (and quickly) create a holding page for your website that has exactly what you want on it.