When we start design work with a client these days, we’re often doing a “redesign.” Many of our clients come to us with existing websites, and hire us to take a look at what they’ve got and approach it from a fresh direction.

When we do have the opportunity to start from scratch with a client, we usually offer to put up a simple “coming soon” page, so that curious visitors know there’s something on the way. These pages can be an art in and of themselves, and can really help a successful site launch down the road, as long as you make sure to get it right.

Here are Needmore’s patented secrets to a successful placeholder page.

First, keep it simple. You should be able to describe what you want from the page in a few paragraphs. There should be no question as to what you want to build, whether you’re the client or the designer. Maybe you just want the gist of your identity, perhaps a color scheme or font choice, so that visitors instantly know they’ve come to the right place.

Don’t spend too much time on this. One afternoon—about four hours at most—is appropriate, unless it’s going to be up for a long time. You’ve set aside a good budget to work with a web designer, don’t squander it on a page that’s only going to be up for a little while. Stay focused on the project as a whole, and keep it in perspective.

Focus on the essentials. Our short list includes your logo or business name, a simple “coming soon” message, a newsletter signup, and social links (twitter, facebook, etc.). We also suggest you sign up for Google Analytics and put the tracking code on your page. And that’s all.

Haute Muse, coming soon!

Note that you may not yet have a newsletter, or even plan on having one. Even if you don’t, you should have a signup. This gives you the opportunity to collect the emails of people interested in your service, and that can be a priceless list when your site goes live. Realize that these are people who want you to sell to them, and it’s better to think ahead a little bit.

Last week, we put up just such a placeholder page for our friends at Haute Muse. It’s a clean, simple page that gives visitors a taste of what’s to come in the form of a video, and includes plenty of ways to stay in touch so that there is an audience already waiting when they launch.

We didn’t budget more than one day of time, but it’s already getting a good amount of traffic, followers, and subscribers. It will make the site launch that much more successful.

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