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From a Design point-of-view, if a page is not ready yet, but the rest of the site is; would it be better to:

  1. Have a 'this page is under construction' message, or
  2. Not have the page at all, until it is ready?

I'm interested in how each design decision will affect the site's performance (popularity). Will having the 'under construction' message affect the users' likelihood of enjoying the site?

When designing a site, which decision is more user-friendly etc.?

migrated from webdesign.stackexchange.com Oct 4 '14 at 22:25

  • As an aside, this borderlines usability, but I'm really interested in which decision ultimately looks better (is better design-wise)! – Möoz Sep 29 '14 at 2:55
  • If this is from a purely design aspect, not usability, then it is completely opinion based. – Zach Saucier Sep 29 '14 at 2:55
  • @ZachSaucier Yeah, I'm trying hard to steer it away from opinion-based. Essentially, I have a design decision, and wondering how it will ultimately impact the site. – Möoz Sep 29 '14 at 3:01
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    Based on experience, I find it's better to at least have something for the user to see, as opposed to showing a blank/error page. This way they know it's not a problem on their end. – dawsondiaz Sep 29 '14 at 3:04
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    @dawsondiaz Speaking from experience, it'd be better not to link to the broken/error/incomplete site at all – Zach Saucier Sep 29 '14 at 3:06
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Most of the time for live sites you should not have a page at all or, if you really want it live (perhaps to show to others and you don't have a development site), don't link to it publicly anywhere.

This is because if a user sees that you have content that interests them enough to click on it, they are expecting to see the page. Having an "under construction" page is a remnant from when it was more difficult to create pages before posting them and is sloppy on today's web. With most CMSes nowadays we can create a page fully before revealing it to the public. In cases where that's not possible, we can still host the site locally to work on the page(s).

I can only think of one reason for an "under construction" page is could possibly be worth it: If a site is being redesigned, the web page URL has already been linked so much that people expect it to be there, and it's impossible to keep up the old version (or hopelessly of date). This situation is very rare, if it even happens.

However, there is a similar placeholder type page that can be useful:

Sometimes a new feature/function/library that hasn't been released yet but will be soon. If you create a page for this, it would make the page an "announcement" page rather than an "under construction" page, which are two completely different things.

In this case I'd recommend adding functionality to allow people to be notified when the feature/function/library is available. This is particularly a good idea if you hope that people will contribute to the project (in which case you should give them the ability to on the page) or if you have a large company where announcements of new features are a big deal.

  • 1
    I completely agree with this. From a usability standpoint this is very crucial. It's like having a sign in the front of a grocery store that's saying they sell peaches, but when you get there, the peaches have yet to be delivered for the first sale. – Majed Sep 29 '14 at 21:38
  • Except, of course, that it takes less time to click the link, than to get in the car, start it, drive to the store, get out, walk in, etc, etc... That said, I completely agree. :) – cullub Sep 29 '14 at 22:22
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I don't feel it's a matter of being "user friendly". It's a matter of presentation.

An incompletely design carries with it a stigma or connotation that you're okay showing off incompletel, unfinished work/products. If the site is customer-oriented (selling a product/service) this indicates that there's no attention to detail perhaps or maybe no follow-through by customer service. If the site is information based, incomplete or missing pages would carry a message of haphazard information or perhaps incomplete information in the areas which are presented.

It is best to complete any design before showing it off to the public. This is true for any project. You never show early stages or partial pieces until everything is complete. Then, and only then, you may want to show "how this was created" content in the context of how the (design) problems were solved.

Due to this you should never show any "under construction" page for any reason. Finish the design, then implement it. There's no reason to have a partial site presented.

If the goal is to get users interested in a "feature" add-on of an existing site while the feature is still being constructed, then a "teaser" page may be implemented. But this would never really be an "Under Construction" page. It should be a "sign up now" or "get notified" page -- so technically a page still.

The only exception may be an entire site as a "coming soon" page rather than some generic hosting landing page to be a placeholder between the domain/hosting being purchased and the site being pushed live. This may still be a bad idea if it can be avoided. Primarily because if a user hits an "under construction/coming soon" site they may never return to it or see it as a new start up and not be interested in someone's new venture. However, if a domain has been purchased and there is some remote possibility a user may inadvertently find that domain, any page is better than the registrar/hosts generic "someone bought this" page.

A generic "under construction" or "coming soon" page generally reflects poorly on the web site in all instances.

1

Don't add the button/link to the page until its ready. It makes your website/client look like they are making overly broad claims, and have no content to back it up. Back up every claim/service/product with a page explaining it.

Honestly if you have the time to create an "under construction" page, then its often better to spend 5 minutes more and create some basic page content, such as a single para explaining the product/service in brief. If you have a client whose services you don't understand, ask them for a brief overview on-call and jot down your notes as a single para for the page. Images are a good way to expand page content quickly, either taken by the client, or stock photos.

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