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Do We Really Need More “Coming Soon” Themes and Plugins?

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It seems like there’s a new “coming soon” or “maintenance mode” theme or plugin coming out every day. Haven’t we seen enough of them?

Note: I use “theme” and “plugin” interchangeably a lot in this post. Depending on your site, it may make sense to get your “coming soon” type page up with either a theme or a plugin.

I also may use “coming soon” and “maintenance mode” interchangeably a lot, as the functionality used to accomplish these tasks are pretty similar.

Anyway, this is what I think about them.

Limited Innovation

Seriously, what else are you going to put in a “coming soon” theme besides the following?

  • A short description or intro video of what’s coming soon
  • A fancy JavaScript countdown of some sort
  • Social media links
  • Newsletter subscription
  • Feed subscription

Any other ideas? I’d love to hear them in the comments.

Limited Shelf Life

The point of a “coming soon” or “maintenance mode” theme/plugin is to be, well, a placeholder for something else a lot more useful in the future.

I realize pre-launch marketing and lead generation is a big deal. It can really make or break a product. There are some really crucial things you can do with “coming soon” themes:

  • Lead generation
  • Email list building
  • Social media traction

Basically, you can utilize “coming soon” themes to build your brand before anything substantial has really launched.

With that said, I still don’t think a lot of that time, money, or thought should be invested in the web template you use as a placeholder for your future site/product launch.

That time, money, and thought, could be better spent on: social media campaigns, developing content strategy, and most importantly, the launch of the actual site you are announcing.

And remember, you can always do all that lead generation, list building, social media and brand building stuff after you launch your site.

Do We Really Need More [Insert Any Type of Theme Here] Themes?

That’s a good point. The market is pretty saturated with pretty much any type of WordPress theme as it is. We already have a ridiculous amount of:

  • News/magazine themes
  • Corporate/business themes
  • Gallery/portfolio themes
  • Good ol’ blog themes
  • And everything in between

The difference is, those types of themes are an actual end product. “Coming soon” themes are merely a temporary transition point.

We can discuss overall WordPress theme market saturation in a future post, if you’d like. But that’s not really the point of this particular post.

But, but… you made a coming soon theme!

Yes, you’re right, I did release a “coming soon” style theme earlier this year called IceChimp.

IceChimp

Although it does integrate pretty well with the MailChimp WordPress plugin, chances are there’s some other similar product that does the same thing. I didn’t really look though.

Overall, to be honest, it introduced hardly any new and innovative stuff to the WordPress community. I never expected it to.

Mostly, I considered it personal practice developing with WordPress’ Theme Customization API, which I used to handle a bunch of options in the theme, including a color style changer.

Maybe a developer downloaded the code, checked out how I did stuff, and used it to develop their own “customized Theme Customizer” (say that three times fast) for their own project. That would’ve been cool.

But still, I never intended or expected IceChimp to become any kind of “game changer” in the world of “coming soon” themes, if there even is a such thing.

Why Do People Still Make “Coming Soon” Themes?

In short, they’re (relatively) easy to develop. Take a look at WordPress.org’s Theme Review page. A huge chunk of that stuff would not apply to a one-page template like a “Coming Soon” theme.

  • There’s no Theme Unit Test to worry about
  • No WordPress generated CSS classes to style for
  • No extensive documentation needed (hopefully)

Basically, it’s an easy way to get your foot in the door of the WordPress community. Even though it will probably go largely unnoticed (see market saturation note above), everyone has to start somewhere.

That’s fine, but a new developer would probably be better off developing something designed to actually display a wide variety of content in a fully-featured WordPress theme, rather than a one page “coming soon” template.

Also, if you’re a commercial theme club, aiming to be a one-stop shop for all of your customers WordPress theme needs, it might be helpful to have one or two “coming soon” themes/plugins in your WordPress product portfolio.

That way, a customer wouldn’t have to look elsewhere for a “coming soon” template if they’re just looking to get a quick site up really quickly. That makes sense.

Conclusion

Yep, this post is a bit ranty, but I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on the subject.

  • What do you think about “coming soon” themes?
  • Do you think there’s any room for innovation? If so, how?
  • Are “coming soon” pages in general that particularly useful anyway?

Sound off in the comments.

About

Leland Fiegel was the original founder of ThemeLab. He is a web developer who loves WordPress and blogging.

  • http://darrenmeehan.me Darren

    Interesting post Leland! I do think time could be better spent on other plugins/themes but at the same time, I don’t see any problem with theme/plugin developers building coming soon themes/plugins, I’d imagine as you did with your IceChimp that they’ve their own personal motives for deciding to make a coming soon theme.

    We’d be stupid to think along the lines of “Everything that can be invented has been invented.”

    As with most industries, I think WordPress developers “play it safe” so to speak. We need more crazy ideas!!! They’ll be the things we take for granted when they’re part of everyday life. I’ll always welcome new, incrementally better coming soon themes though.

  • http://artfulpussycat.com Ed Holtzman

    I find the ‘coming soon’ functionality highly useful during the dev/design phase but I much prefer the plugin method as I can eliminate some steps from the workflow by developing on the live domain/server. With a coming soon/maintenance mode plugin I can develop the site using the theme I want in the end result with the site only visible to logged in users. That way I can develop in real-time and provide the client with a login so they can collaborate. When ready to launch, it’s as simple as disabling a plugin to “pull back the curtain” and launch.

  • http://wpspeak.com/ Rudd

    I prefer to use coming soon plugin instead of coming soon. The difference between both of them is with plugin, you can tweak or edit your theme in the background without anyone seeing it, while if you use coming soon theme, you won’t be able to activate other theme and edit it.

  • http://www.themesquirrel.com Joe

    I do like the coming soon plugin for the same reason as Rudd. Also I don’t see why we need multiple choices for a coming soon theme. They all say the same thing “coming soon”