"Coming Soon", the new "Under Construction"

Posted December 15, 2009 by Jim Ciallella

Remember back in 1993 when it was cool to put animated "Under Construction" .gif graphics on an unfinished section of your website. Of course, and on rare occasion we land on one of these pages, only to find that 15 years later it is still being hammered out by little guys in hardhats.

A quick search of "Under Construction" reveals many sites advising against this early practice and others celebrating the awesome graphics.

Today, Web 2.0 has replaced the old with the new, and "Coming Soon" is thy name. We can even steal "Coming Soon" animated .gifs, just like the old days.

I ran into a recent example at the bottom of a company's Premium page. The free section has nifty graphics and a slick registration process. The paid/premium page has a meager bulleted list and a Case Studies heading with "Coming Soon". I imagine they make more money off the FREE service, but it struck me as odd that a site of this magnitude would go through the trouble of listing "Case Studies" and have nothing to show

I asked myself, what are legitimate uses of "Coming Soon"?

It seems acceptable to share future plans in the company blog.

I could even see a "road map" section of future features, enhancements, fixes, etc, but only if you're able to put an expected date on them and show some level of commitment or activity.

I wonder, what are other modern derivations of "Under Construction"? What else would be an acceptable use of the "Coming Soon" approach?


Kevin Dees ~ December 15, 2009

In many respects I would say that under-construction/coming-soon is usually not something you should consider when it comes to a "new page" for your website.

However, "Coming Soon" tends to be a promotional concept. For example, we have Harmony http://get.harmonyapp.com/ and then we have Dribbble http://dribbble.com/ both use the "Coming Soon" concept to gain awareness and hype. But these example are promotional. They are not under-construction.

So, the promotional approach is probably the only justification for "Coming Soon" I can see. There many be others but the risk is higher.

Jim Ciallella ~ December 15, 2009

Kevin, I'd agreed with the "it's hidden behind the curtain, we'll share it real soon" approach, which we see Google and others use to lure in alpha testers on new services.

Scott Buchanan ~ December 16, 2009

Whether the road map is shared or not, I feel the important requirement is that a road map exists. There seem to be two uses for "coming soon" labels (or "under construction" for that matter): (1) we're not done, but we're working on it, and it will be here soon, or (2) this is a cool feature we'd like to have one day. Basically, the label needs to be honest, not just a placeholder for something that may or may not ever happen.

And, yes, my own website is "coming soon." But, really, it is. :-D

Scott Buchanan ~ December 16, 2009

The other thing is that there should be a purpose for sharing that the feature is "coming soon." The promotional aspect that Kevin mentioned is one such purpose. The example form DISQUS seems to serve no purpose: why does a user care that at some point in the future there will be case studies there?

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