Com-placehold-ency: The Dangers of the ‘Band-Aid Web Page’

Marketing is all about presentation. It’s how businesses put their best foot forward, and make sure that your first impression is always a good one. And still, a number of businesses often find themselves with sections of their websites—or even their entire web presence—walled off with a ‘coming soon’ placeholder page.

It’s not just small or local businesses, either. Large companies, and even some marketing agencies, will find themselves hiding behind a placeholder website for months on-end.

So why do so many businesses find themselves settling for ‘coming soon’ or ‘under construction’ websites? And, really, is a placeholder page so bad?

Yes. Placeholder Web Pages Are ‘So Bad’.

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They Set a Bad Precedent.

If you have a ‘full site coming soon’ placeholder up for any length of time, you’ll get used to having no web traffic. This easily feeds into the notion that you don’t actually need web traffic, and that a proper website isn’t worth investing in.

While, yes, many businesses can function without a website, that doesn’t necessarily mean it should. Internet-based marketing is expanding in leaps and bounds, and users are becoming more tech-savvy by the day. With every new innovation, the potential growth you might be missing out on due to a lackluster web presence becomes more devastating.

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They Convey a Poor Image.

If your site is ‘under construction’ or ‘coming soon’, then visitors will think that either you’re unread to do business, or that you’re slow to honor your commitments. This speaks negatively to a number of things: It conveys that you might be unprofessional (because a chunk of your customer-facing image is literally unfinished), unreliable (particularly if your business is old or established enough that it should have a full website, or if your ‘band-aid’ is more than a few weeks), or, even worse, that you have low overall standards and that you’re okay with having a splash page with contact info rather than anything actually useful.

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They Artificially Satisfy Your Need to Succeed

We want to be seen accomplishing great things. It’s a part of basic human psychology. But studies have shown that the act of telling people about the great accomplishments you’ll make will actually scratch that itch, making us much less likely to actually finish it. In fact, Derek Sivers has a great TED talk about it.

If your business puts up a placeholder page promising visitors that you’re going to produce a wonderful, fully-realized website, that promise saps your motivation to actually produce one—whereas if you have nothing up, you’re more likely to be driven to complete your full website.

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They Give You an Easy Out

This is a lesson that I learned from Sun Tzu: If a man has a path to retreat, he’s instinctively going to want to use it. A temporary website is an ‘easy out’ that businesses give themselves, saying “My customers are getting the basic info they need from the temporary site. We can put it off a little longer.”

The problem with this is actually mid-way between an issue of motivation and an issue of image: Firstly, no, your customers aren’t getting what they need from a temporary site. If they were, then it wouldn’t be temporary. Second, no, you can’t casually put it off. Like the GFDA poster says: “Don’t f***ing procrastinate; ‘Someday’ isn’t a day of the week“. (Careful clicking on the link; that site is full of as much nsfw language as good f’n design advice.)

They’re Bad for SEO

I’m not going to get into it, because it’s already been covered by people with much more personal experience with SEO algorithms than myself, but the long-and-short of it: Placeholder pages aren’t good for SEO.

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The Solution?

In a perfect world, every ‘under construction’ or ‘coming soon’ page would automatically replace itself with “I’m a big dumb baby who can’t be trusted with deadlines.” Not because people who leave placeholder pages up are actual ‘big dumb babies who can’t be trusted with deadlines’, mind you—but because the safety net makes us complacent. If we knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that an old ‘coming soon’ page makes us look foolish and unprofessional, you can bet your life that people would get those websites finished.

Have a stalled web project that you need kick-started? We do that. Want to plan a big fancy launch campaign for when your new site is finally ready to go? We do that too. Have any questions, comments, or suggestions? Either ask in the comments below, or contact us to ask me directly.

Want to be notified with updates, links, and articles? Keep an eye out for our newsletter. Coming soon, in the most ironic way possible! (Also, if the list isn’t enabled in 2 weeks, send me a notice, and I swear by my life that I’ll change that last line from “Keep an eye out for our newsletter…” to “Tough! I’m a big dumb baby who doesn’t have a newsletter because he can’t be trusted with deadlines.”)

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William Hull

With a background in publishing and experience writing copy for virtually every medium, Will has dedicated himself to becoming as versatile, knowledgeable, and effective as humanly possible. His core belief of quality over quantity is the foundation upon which Precision Impact was built.

He is also unable to make a 'Penseur' pose without looking at least a bit ridiculous, as evidenced by his profile photo.
William Hull
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